‘Deadpool’ Highest Grossing R-Rated Film Ever? Not When You Adjust For Inflation

Deadpool has become the highest grossing R-rated movie ever produced. As of this weekend, the foul-mouthed antihero’s film has grossed $745 million in ticket sales. The Marvel Entertainment production beat the Wachowski brothers’ 2003 film, The Matrix Reloaded, by $3 million, according to the Guardian.

The movie’s success is exceptional considering that it was not even released in China, which has the second-largest box office in the world. Its success is partly due to the excellent reviews that it received after opening. Good news for production company 20th Century Fox, since they began production on a sequel before the film was even released.

The highest-grossing film position must have Deadpool producers pumped, because according to Hollywood Reporter, “Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who wrote Deadpool, are writing the script for a follow-up, which has already been greenlighted” more than three days before the film hit theaters.

It is unknown whether Tim Miller will reprise his role as director for the sequel, but it seems likely. Getting the film produced was a difficult task for Miller and crew.

“Reese, Wernick and Miller, as well as star Ryan Reynolds, have fought an uphill battle within the studio system to get the movie made, forging themselves into a compact unit,” said HR.

Being that Deadpool is now the highest grossing film in history, it would seem that the studio and the team would want to stick together for a second installment. After all, why break up a winning formula?

Of course, Miller may have other projects that he wants to do, so the possibility of a new director is not out of the question. However, it is highly unlikely that Ryan Reynolds would decline a role in the sequel. According to People, Reynolds spent 11 years of his life trying to get the film made. He is not likely to bail on a sequel.

But, is Deadpool indeed the highest grossing film ever produced? Strictly speaking, it is, but when you consider that the No. 2 spot only trails by $3 million dollars and was made over 10 years ago, it starts to appear as if all the hoopla is more hype than reality.

The Matrix Reloaded brought in $742 million in 2003. If you adjust that figure for inflation, it becomes $956 million, meaning that had the Wachowskis made their film this year, it would have outperformed Deadpool by over $200 million (U.S. Inflation Calculator).

So, saying Deadpool is the highest grossing movie ever produced is a bit of a half-truth regarding its success. Not to detract from the film’s triumph, because it’s truly had a stellar performance, but any movie’s actual worth is determined by what it nets, rather than what it grosses. So, which film was more successful in terms of net money earned?

According to Box Office Mojo, The Matrix Reloaded had a budget of $150 million. In today’s dollars, that would be the equivalent of $193 million. Subtract that from the movie’s box office inflation-adjusted take, mentioned above, and the film earned $763 million.

Therefore, the Matrix film in actuality netted higher than Deadpool grossed. Deadpool’s budget was comparatively lower, at $58 million, making its net worth $687 million. So, by equivalent standards, The Matrix Reloaded still stands on top over Deadpool as both the highest grossing and highest netting R-rated film, when adjusted for inflation.

However, maybe it is not fair to compare newer movies to older by adjusting for inflation. After all, The Godfather would blow both of those movies out of the water after changing its 1972 box office gross of $245 million to a 2016 figure of $1.3 billion.

No. Let us allow Deadpool to have the highest grossing R-rated movie position for a while. They deserve to ride the wave of hype, at least until the sequel is released.

[Image via Nigel Horsley | Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and Resized | CC BY-SA 2.0 ]