The Early Word on ‘Deadpool 2’ Is Pretty, Pretty Good

But can it top the original?

'Deadpool 2' Reviews
Josh Brolin as Cable in ‘Deadpool 2.’ Courtesy Fox

Fox’s Deadpool shattered expectations and blew away box office records when it hit theaters in February 2016. On the back of an 83 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and overwhelmingly strong word-of-mouth, it rode a wave of goodwill to a staggering $783 million worldwide.

Can the sequel top it?

If early test screenings are any indication, Deadpool 2 has a legitimate shot.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Ryan Reynolds-led follow up has been eliciting widespread praise in the early going testing phase, even receiving a high mark of 98 in one instance. People really love the Merc with a Mouth (and will still love him over at Disney (DIS), where he will remain delightfully R-rated).

Per the outlet, Deadpool 2 has been tested three times, scoring a 91 and a 97 in the first two outings. The final test featured two separate cuts simultaneously, which scored a 98 and a 94. Guess which one FOX (FOXA) is going with?

For comparison, THR notes that the original Deadpool scored a 91 in test screenings and all that did was propel it to the top of the gross list for R-rated films and X-Men movies all time. Not too shabby.

Studios put their blockbusters through extensive test screenings to iron out kinks and massage the final product into a broad appeal hit. This process includes audience rankings, follow-up questionnaires and discussion workshops related to the film. These usually lead to re-shoots (every big movie bakes them into their schedule) where the crew will add more of what audiences enjoy and tinker with certain scenes that didn’t quite work.

Deadpool 2 underwent a brisk six days of reshoots with a couple more expected later this month. That is nothing compared to the extensive additional work done for big budget blockbusters such as Warner Bros.’ Justice League and Lucasfilm’s upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story (and, for what it’s worth, the fantastic Rogue One).

So, back to our original question, can Deadpool 2 top the financial heights of the original?

It’s hard to say this far out. Each Marvel Cinematic Universe sequel, save for Avengers: Age of Ultron, has out-grossed its direct predecessor. Obviously, Deadpool isn’t set in the MCU, but X-2: X-Men UnitedThe Last Stand and Days of Future Past all managed to out-earn their previous entries. Then again, the sequel may not be quite the cultural phenomenon that the original was, even if it’s a better movie. It will also face much stiffer competition than the 2016 movie as it’s being released in the thick of the summer blockbuster movie season.

Deadpool 2 will introduce Josh Brolin’s Cable and Zazie Beetz’s Domino when it arrives in theaters on May 18.

The Early Word on ‘Deadpool 2’ Is Pretty, Pretty Good