One of this summer's most anticipated movies, 20th Century Fox's Deadpool 2, hit theaters last night with Thursday sneak preview screenings, and it has already set a new box office record. This sequel took in a whopping $18.6 million in Thursday screenings, easily beating the previous R-rated record of $13.5 million, set last fall by the New Line Cinema horror hit IT. Industry projections had put the sequel's Thursday haul between $15 million and $18 million, as the Merc With the Mouth found a way to, yet again, defy the odds and projections.
Deadpool 2 opened in 3,785 theaters with preview screenings starting at 7 PM local time, with exit polling revealing that fans gave it a 5 out of 5 rating, with 78% giving it a "definite recommend" rating. Deadpool 2 expands today to 4,349 theaters, which sets even more box office records. The theater count marks the highest ever for an R-rated movie, breaking the record of 4,103 theaters set last fall by IT, and it's also the widest release in 20th Century Fox history, besting the 20th Century Fox/DreamWorks Animation movie How to Train Your Dragon 2 (4,253 theaters).
Deadpool 2 was projected to take in roughy $150 million this weekend, an improvement over the original Deadpool's $132.4 million, the highest opening weekend for an R-rated movie in history. The original Deadpool was projected to take in roughly $50 million in its opening weekend, and it nearly matched that projection on its first day, with a $47.3 million day on Friday, including a Thursday sneak peek tally of $12.7 million, which was a record at the time. The Merc With the Mouth proved to be incredibly consistent over its opening weekend, with a Saturday tally of $42.5 million and a Sunday tally of $42.6 million, with the movie also falling over a four-day President's Day holiday weekend.
Deadpool 2 also has the advantage of coming between Marvel's blockbuster Avengers: Infinity War, whose three-week box office reign this sequel will likely end this weekend, and Disney's Solo: A Star Wars Story. While this likely means that Deadpool 2 will likely have a short reign at the top, with Solo: A Star Wars Story projected to take in $170 million over the four-day Memorial Day holiday weekend, Solo doesn't have any other direct competition that weekend, which could bode well for a stronger-than-expected second weekend for Deadpool 2.
Deadpool 2 does have some direct competition this weekend, in the form of two comedies, Global Road's Show Dogs, opening in 3,145 theaters, and Paramount's Book Club, debuting in just 2,781 theaters. Neither of these movies are expected to give the Merc With the Mouth much competition at the box office this weekend, but since they're both aimed at vastly different audiences, they could still do fairly well, despite not having a chance at topping the box office going against Deadpool 2. Deadline broke the news on Deadpool 2's Thursday box office record this morning.