In the weeks before it was released, the Internet conversation swirling around "Deadpool" was 98 percent positive, according to comScore's PreAct. It's also very large: The chatter trails only "Avengers: Age of Ultron" for a Marvel adaptation since PreAct began measuring the health of marketing campaigns in 2013.
That exposure is especially important for a film that not only features a relatively unknown character, but will be the first X-Men movie with an R-rating — and a hard R at that — according to Dergarabedian.
From the very beginning, Fox has harnessed the power of viral marketing to keep Deadpool top of mind in the social media sphere.The first on-camera appearance by Reynolds as Deadpool came during an April Fool's interview on the entertainment show "Extra." The spot ended with Deadpool knocking out host Mario Lopez after he insisted the movie couldn't succeed with an R-rating.
That clip has gotten nearly 2 million views.
More recently, Fox ran a "12 Days of Deadpool" campaign leading up to a Christmas Day trailer release. And two weeks ago, the character cropped up in a salty public service announcement to raise awareness for testicular cancer prevention in partnership with the British nonprofit Ballboys.
The videos are drawing highly unusual levels of engagement. The ratio of people who click "thumbs up" on movie trailers and clips usually clocks in at .02 to .06, according to social media-focused online magazine MoviePilot, and a reading of 0.6 to 0.7 is considered better. By comparison, the ratio for "Deadpool" is a whopping 1.04.
"I haven't seen any movie like that that has such a big positive buzz on YouTube at this scale," MoviePilot CEO Tobi Bauckhage told CNBC.
About two weeks before its release, "Deadpool" was regularly drumming up 10,000 to 20,000 tweets, running just behind "Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens," according to BoxOffice.com.
This past Friday, following early "Deadpool" screenings, that volume spiked to more than 90,000, surpassing "The Force Awakens."
In the run-up to its release, analysts at BoxOffice.com projected the movie would earn more than $70 million in its first four days in North American theaters. With its $135 million haul, "Deadpool" beat the opening weekends for Disney's "Ant-Man" and Sony's "The Amazing Spider-Man." The company augments traditional pre-release tracking by factoring in social media buzz and other factors.
"Social media is obviously very important in this day and age for any movie," BoxOffice.com senior analyst Shawn Robbins said. "Fox has actually been really championing it for quite a while and they've taken it to the next level with 'Deadpool.' "
Many of the posts have come from Reynolds himself, who has been linked to the project for more than a decade and doubled as a producer. The actor, who calls himself a lifelong Deadpool fan, is widely seen by fans as having been instrumental to getting "Deadpool" into theaters after years of delays.
"The fact that he's been so confident about it since day one, and they've taken a lot of years to really make it work, I think that's helped to accentuate the excitement among fans," Robbins said.