'Deadpool' Bedevils 'Risen,' 'The Witch' With $55M at Weekend Box Office


By Pamela McClintock

Even if they were trounched by the the irreverent superhero movie, Risen and The Witch can still claim solid showings; Jesse Owens biopic Race also opens.

Deadpool easily won the battle for heaven and earth at the North American box office in its second outing, earning a sizeable $55 million from 3,277 theaters to trounce Biblical resurrection tale Risen and the demonic-laced The Witch.

On Saturday, Ryan Reynolds’ audacious superhero movie raced past the $200 million mark in North America, its ninth day in release and faster than any R-rated title in history. Through Sunday, the film’s domestic gross is $235.4 million, while it’s almost cleared $500 million globally in a massive victory for Reynolds and Fox.

Overseas, Deadpool earned $85 million in its second outing for a foreign total of $256.5 million and worldwide haul of $491.9 million. The movie is now destined to become the top-R rated title in history, eclipsing The Passion of the Christ ($611.9 million), not accounting for inflation. Domestically, it’s already passed up Fifty Shades of Grey ($166.2 million). Fifty Shades, released a year ago, grossed $571 million globally.

Deadpool has become a cultural phenomenon with all audiences that is resonating across the globe,” said Fox domestic distribution chief Chris Aronson.

Among the new openings in North America, Risen did the most, earning $11.7 million or more from 2,915 locations to claim one of the top debuts ever for a faith-based title after The Passion of the Christ ($83.8 million), Son of God ($25.6 million) and Heaven Is for Real ($24 million).

Directed by Waterworld’s Kevin Reynolds, Risen hits theaters in the midst of Lent after a major faith-based marketing push that included screening the movie at the Vatican, where stars Joseph Fiennes — who plays a powerful Roman military tribune tasked with investigating reports of Jesus’ resurrection — met with Pope Francis.

Sony’s label, Affirm, made the $20 million movie with LD Entertainment. Tom Felton also stars.

Risen wasn’t able to beat Kung Fu Panda 3, however, and claim the No. 2 spot. Instead, it settled for No. 3. Showing staying power, Panda 3 came in No. 2 with $12.5 million for a domestic total of $117.1 million.

The Witch came in No. 4 with $8.7 million from 2,046 theaters — the top opening in A24’s young history. The R-rated horror film, endorsed by the Satanic Temple, opens a little over a year after it made waves at the Sundance Film Festival, earning first-time feature director Robert Eggers the directing award in the dramatic category.

Set in the 17th Century New England, The Witch tells the story of a Puritan family encountering evil. It grossed $3.2 million Friday for a projected $8 million opening.

Read More: ‘Risen’: Film Review

A24 and DirecTV partnered in picking up domestic rights to The Witch for a modest $1 million and originally intended to make the film first on VOD. But they decided to give The Witch a traditional theatrical release in 2,046 theaters thanks to strong buzz. The cast includes up-and-coming actress Anya Taylor-Joy.

A24 insiders say any opening over $4 million would be a victory, considering it made only a modest marketing spend, and far less than the minimum $20 million required for a nationwide release.

Going after adults this weekend was Jesse Owens biopic Race, which debuted to a subdued $7.3 million-plus from 2,369 locations. From Focus Features, the movie is the first of several planned biopics about Owens to hit theaters.

The good news: Race earned an A CinemaScore, the best of the three new films. Risen earned an A- CinemaScore, while The Witch garnered a C- (not unusual for a horror title).

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Stephen Hopkins directed Race. Stephan James stars as Owens, who overcame adversity to win four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics in Germany, where he was confronted with Hitler’s vision of Aryan supremacy. Jason Sudeikis, Jeremy Irons, Carice van Houten and William Hurt also star.

Race came in No. 6 after How to Be Single, which rounded out the top five in its second weekend with $8.2 million from 3,357 locations for a domestic total of $31.8 million.