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Deadpool slays at box office, proves R-rating isn’t a death sentence

It looks like 20th Century Fox’s aggressive Deadpool marketing campaign is paying off: The Marvel superhero flick, starring Ryan Reynolds, officially opened in theaters Friday, and early estimates already have it on pace to break the $80-million mark at the U.S. box office this weekend, according to Variety. The superhero movie has gotten off to such a strong start that a climb past $90 million isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

Previously predicted by 20th Century Fox to open between $60 and $65 million, Deadpool quickly showed that it was going to make a bigger splash. The flick brought in $12.7 million in Thursday night preview openings alone, which set a record among R-rated films, nabbing the crown from 2011’s The Hangover Part II. If ticket sales skew toward the higher end of projections, Deadpool could potentially even overtake Fifty Shades of Grey ($93 million) for the biggest Presidents’ Day Weekend debut ever, as Variety pointed out.

Related: Deadpool dossier: Everything you need to know about Marvel’s R-rated star

Deadpool isn’t your typical superhero movie, and maybe that’s what has been drawing people to it. Not only is it rated R, but the hero isn’t always all that heroic. He’s often brutal, mouthy, and a little bit insane. Deadpool stands apart from the other Marvel protagonists, and with Marvel’s cinematic universe constantly growing, that’s not a bad thing.

20th Century Fox wisely warmed fans up to the atypical superhero and built up excitement about the film’s release well in advance. Last year’s Comic Con attendees had a chance to see Deadpool footage, and the character has been active on social media for several months. Deadpool’s masked face and risqué brand of humor have been everywhere, from lounging on a bearskin rug in a Twitter post to recently taking over all commercial breaks during numerous shows on multiple TV networks.

Even before getting positive feedback via ticket sales, 20th Century Fox was confident in the film and its star — the Deadpool sequel was already in the works before the first officially opened — and the studio was clearly right to be.