'Deadpool': Is a sequel already set for the superhero movie?

Scheduling movies far in advance, sometimes even before the original movie comes to theaters, is becoming the norm.

Joe Lederer/Twentieth Century Fox Corporation/AP
'Deadpool' stars Ryan Reynolds (l.) and Morena Baccarin (r.).

The upcoming superhero movie “Deadpool” isn’t yet in theaters, but reports say 20th Century Fox is already working on the next movie about the wisecracking title character. 

“Deadpool” screenwriters Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese are reportedly on the job for a screenplay for a sequel to the film, which will be released on Feb. 12, and the sequel has reportedly already been okayed by the studio. 

The movie tells the story of Wade Wilson, also known as Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds), who has healing abilities and is skilled at fighting. The character is popular with comic book fans and the movie about him is rated R, a rarity for superhero films. 

To some, moving forward with a sequel to a film when the first hasn’t yet been released could seem premature. Yet movie studios are planning far ahead with their big-budget movies and franchises – superhero movie studio Marvel, for example, is famous for having planned movies far in advance (Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige told Bloomberg Businessweek in an interview that he’d seen a movie map that went to 2028). 

Does this strategy succeed? Staking out a valuable movie release date, such as during the holiday season, well in advance could pay off, but planning far in advance comes with its own risks.

Los Angeles Times writer Ben Fritz wrote in 2011 that “scheduling movies three years in advance – let alone before production has been greenlighted – is unusual but not unprecedented in Hollywood, where claiming prime release dates for tentpole movies has become a fiercely competitive chess game.” 

But at that time, those working in Hollywood with whom Fritz spoke couldn’t remember anyone setting a release time for a movie sequel when the first hadn’t yet appeared on the scene unless it was a film series where the movies had been filmed at the same time, like the "Lord of the Rings" movies.

But it’s a new way to attempt to ensure success for your movie, writes Todd Cunningham of TheWrap

“When you’re spending north of $150 million on a movie, you want to be absolutely sure it has the optimum opening date – even if that means locking it down five years in advance,” Cunningham wrote. 

It can inject new uncertainty into the process for those actually making the movies, though.

When Disney announced it would switch the release date of “Star Wars: Episode VIII” to the 2017 holiday season rather than have the movie come out during spring 2017, movie studios began to shuffle their dates rather than go up against “Star Wars.” It was recently announced, for example, that director Steven Spielberg’s science fiction movie “Ready Player One” will come out in the spring of 2018 rather than the end of 2017.

And we’ve already seen this plan backfire, and for 20th Century Fox, no less – the movie “Fantastic Four” came out this past summer but did not do well with critics or at the box office. 20th Century Fox had already announced a sequel would arrive in 2017. That movie’s future is now uncertain. Movie studios would no doubt feel as if they’ve lost face if they set an official release date for a film and then have to double back.

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