One of the many bits of Hollywood conventional wisdom that Deadpool proved wrong is that it's impossible to get into the superhero movie business without spending an absurd amount of money.
The film's R-rated script reportedly made the studio skittish, and the film's budget was reduced to reflect those fears. Made for (depending on who you ask) between $45 and $58 million, Deadpool has earned almost $325 million at the domestic box office, making it roughly 500% profitable.
The film will likely have earned about 6 times its production budget at the North American box office by the time its theatrical run is over, meaning that in order to compare, a $150 million to $200 million superhero movie like Captain America: Civil War or Man of Steel would have had to make about $1 billion -- that's Star Wars: The Force Awakens money, and significantly more than any other film has ever earned domestically -- to have the kind of return on investment Fox is reaping from Deadpool.
This is an interesting way to look at the box office success of the film because is goes against the grain of much of the current thinking in Hollywood. Actors like Gwyneth Paltrow have bemoaned how much harder it is to get a "mid-budget" movie like Deadpool made, with many studios currently favoring high-risk, high-reward movies, or near-zero-risk movies done on an indie budget that don't sting at all if they don't succeed.
It's not uncommon for studios to chase big dollar numbers, but certainly the idea of a low-investment franchise is no stranger to Hollywood. Films like Clerks and The Blair Witch Project made names for themselves by quickly becoming some of the highest-ROI movies ever made. A number of horror franchises have kicked off that way, with films like Paranormal Activity and Saw relying heavily on their relatively low budgets to turn big profits in spite of R ratings and a niche audience.
Self-described venture capitalist Liam Boluk shared some insight about this on Twitter, but the tweet has since been removed.
Based upon Marvel Comics’ most unconventional anti-hero, DEADPOOL tells the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson, who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool. Armed with his new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life.