Happy Bloody Valentine from Deadpool.
DEADPOOL surprised everyone by raking in monumental box-office dollars on its opening weekend. After all the dust had settled, the potty-mouthed superhero delivered a massive Valentine to Fox Studios by banking $135 million domestically and another $125 abroad for a total global tally of $260 million! That’s just downright nuts, and apparently, it’s the biggest opening in 20th Century Fox’s history. The thing is, many of us felt the buzz building long ago. Remember when Ryan Reynolds showed up at Comic-con? And remember how every other cosplayer was dressed as Deadpool? (the other half are dressed as Harley Quinn, but that’s another topic). The fact that Hollywood and much of America is surprised is silly…..those of us who’ve been following the fan conventions, the message boards, and the “pop culture” weather vanes knew we had a monster hit on our hands.
According to screenwriter and Pop Culture expert Leo Partible, there’s a scientific reason that caused people to respond to Deadpool like they did. We’ll get to that later, but right now, here’s what everyone else is saying.
According to Forbes magazine, “It’s the biggest opening weekend in 20th Century Fox’s history, bigger than any of the prior X-Men films and larger than any of their six Star Wars entries. Regarding comic book movies, it’s the seventh-biggest such debut of all time, behind only two Avengers films, two Dark Knight pics, Iron Man 3 and Spider-Man 3.” Read full story here >>>
But how did Deadpool become so popular? There are a few different opinions, some of them causing controversy. For example, a little tiff erupted between Hollywood business site Deadline and Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn.
Here’s the offending quote from Deadline: “The film has a self-deprecating tone that’s riotous. It’s never been done before. It’s poking fun at Marvel. That label takes itself so seriously, can you imagine them making fun of themselves in a movie? They’d rather stab themselves.”
And here’s Gunn’s (NSFW) response: “This quote has to have been said by the dumbest f***ing Hollywood exec in the history of dumb f***ing Hollywood execs. Let’s ignore Guardians for a moment, a movie that survives from moment to moment building itself up and cutting itself down – God knows I’m biased about that one. But what do you think Favreau and Downey did in Iron Man? What the f*** was Ant-Man??! Come on, Deadline.” Read the full story here. >>>
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Vince Mancini, a writer for the website UPROXX, thinks that fans flocked to Deadpool specifically because it was rated R. Hmmm. Not sure I’m buying that, but let’s give Mancini a chance. Here’s what he had to say: “With Deadpool, not only did it go huge while being rated R, it went huge largely because it was rated R. The R rating proved to fans that it was serious, and while I don’t think what comic book superfans think matters nearly as much as studios think it does, Deadpool‘s R-rating helped differentiate it at a time when just being a superhero movie is no longer that big a deal. The kinds of movies that get greenlit from here on out will depend on whether people in charge see Deadpool‘s opening as anecdotal or as an example to learn from.” Read full article here >>>
Leo Partible has plied his trade in films, comics, music, education and speaking engagements. He’s a frequent panelist at Comic-cons. His take on why Deadpool connected so well is based not just on ideas about script, character and marketing, but also on research and scientific theory. Here’s his take on it:
“There’s a reason why Deadpool is a blockbuster. There’s a formula I teach which is Catharsis + Laughter = Big Box Office. It has nothing to do with ratings, PG, R, etc. Catharsis means to purify and it’s created by Pity + Fear. Catharsis allows for Empathy and a chemical is released called Phenylethalamine (PEA) which is called the Happiness Drug. Laughter, or the feeling of release (from something suspenseful) creates Oxytocin, which is the ‘Trust’ chemical. We pity Deadpool because of what happened to him and Fear for his future (especially since he’s disfigured which complicates his love life). His perseverance and overcoming gives us a personal narrative to connect with him. The laughter allows us to trust him and a combination of the chemicals released creates a narcotic effect in the brain. Thus, Deadpool becomes a blockbuster.
“To get to Star Wars and Avatar level, you just need to make it a religious or spiritual experience in addition to Catharis + Laughter. The chemical PEA (created by Catharsis) is also released by eating chocolate or having sex (pleasure and procreation). Low PEA (phenylethalamine) can cause serious depression, especially in men. Catharsis (Pity + Fear) is detailed in Aristotle’s Poetics and he took the term Catharsis from a medical term in the Greek which refers to a woman’s monthly period (purification). That is also what St. Paul refers to when he talks about, ‘What ever is pure… think on these things.’ The ‘pure’ Paul is talking about is Catharsis. So women have monthly ‘Catharsis’ from their period, while men have to get that Catharsis through, for example, storytelling or watching sports. Science proves the Bible, that stories are necessary for our physical health. Catharsis is one objective way to determine the quality of a story because a great story is a memorable experience because it is cathartic. The word ‘Aletheia’ means truth, or ‘to remember.’ A mediocre story is bad for the mind and the body, though I won’t go into that right now.
“Here’s a great TED talk that goes into great detail about PEA, Oxytocin and storytelling:”
So there you have it: all kinds of people have all kinds of opinions on why Deadpool earned so much money: its rating; its humor; its marketing; its self-deprecation; its chemical responses. Whatever it is, it worked. Bring on more Deadpool!
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