When it comes to evaluating the financial performance of top movies, it isn’t about what a film grosses at the box office. The true tale is told when production budgets, P&A, talent participations and other costs collide with box office grosses and ancillary revenues from VOD to DVD and TV. To get close to that mysterious end of the equation, Deadline is repeating our Most Valuable Blockbuster tournament, using data culled by seasoned and trusted sources.

DEADPOOL
20th Century Fox

THE FILM

Many will not be able to believe that the winning ticket in this tournament doesn’t belong to Ryan Reynolds and his Deadpool cohorts, but I would argue that their ascension to the bridesmaid position in this tournament, ahead of all the Disney blockbusters, is a towering achievement in its own right. Think of everything working against it. Reynolds’ first turn as the scarred anti-hero The Merc With The Mouth came in the first X-Men spinoff, Wolverine, which is often regarded as the least satisfying of the live-action movies made on Marvel Comics characters; Reynolds swung and missed in Green Lantern at Warner Bros; VFX wiz Tim Miller was set at director way back in 2011 and the movie just languished and languished until Miller leaked CGI test footage online and the reaction was so raucous that Fox finally greenlit the film. From the opening credits to the do-you-kiss-your-mother-with-that-mouth? dialogue, Deadpool changed the superhero game. The genre had become so stoic, and there have been few R-rated superhero films since the days when Wesley Snipes was killing vampires in Blade. Deadpool‘s cocky and irreverent sensibilities seemed to filter into Suicide Squad, which came later. That film’s marketing campaign also promised anarchy and disruption, but didn’t deliver the way Deadpool did. Its R sensibility probably helped Fox feel comfortable about the final version of Logan, Fox’s recent release and its second huge R-rated superhero hit. Deadpool’s financial performance was even more jaw-dropping. Let’s take a look.

THE BOX SCORE

Here are the costs and revenues as our experts see them:

THE BOTTOM LINE

20th Century Fox

Armed by a marketing campaign that perfectly reflected the disruptive nature of the subject matter, Deadpool was crazy good at the box office. It outstripped predictions in its Presidents Day opening weekend, grossing $135 million domestic over the holiday, and did $264 million worldwide. Strong word of mouth sustained the film for a long run that brought $363 million domestic, and $420 million (no China) for a total of $783 million. All that on a $58 million production budget. Beyond fueling a puncher’s-chance run at an Oscar nomination, Deadpool won numerous accolades. It became the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time (even though The Passion Of The Christ still holds the domestic record), and was one of Fox’s highest-grossing films of all time —  it was also the highest-grossing X-Men film. A sequel is in the offing, as well as plans to feature Deadpool in a new X-Men spinoff series X-Force. It is not too much to imagine that Deadpool becomes the focal point of Fox’s X-Men franchise, now that Wolverine has retired and the other characters seem a bit tired. Total revenues were $647 million, and costs were $324 million, a figure that included nearly $90 million in Participations, Residuals and Off-the-Tops that account for payouts after the film broke even. That left $322 million in net profit for Fox, and a Cash on Cash Return of 1.99. One of the greatest success stories in recent movie history.