Deadpool, the new movie staring Ryan Reynolds as the potty-mouthed superhero, has broken box office records with $135 million in ticket sales after only three days in theaters. The movie was expected to earn only $80 million over the Valentine’s Day weekend but is now the biggest selling R-rated movie opening of all time. It has surpassed both “Fifty Shades of Grey” and “The Matrix Reloaded” which earned $85.2 million and $91.8 million respectively. Time magazine quoted comScore’s senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian: Deadpool “is the very definition of an expectation-buster. Nobody saw this coming. It doesn’t feel like a cookie-cutter superhero movie. It feels like something unique. You’ve got to sometimes take risks and go against conventional wisdom to come out a winner.”
Very interesting. Especially when you realize that you could just as easily exchange the title “Deadpool” for the names “Donald Trump” or “Bernie Sanders” and the words “superhero movie” for “presidential candidate” with no loss in meaning.
Bernie Sanders is the very definition of an expectation-buster. Nobody saw this coming. Sanders doesn’t feel like a cookie-cutter presidential candidate. Sanders feels like something unique. You’ve got to sometimes take risks and go against conventional wisdom to come out a winner.
Donald Trump is the very definition of an expectation-buster. Nobody saw this coming. Trump doesn’t feel like a cookie-cutter presidential candidate. Trump feels like something unique. You’ve got to sometimes take risks and go against conventional wisdom to come out a winner.
There it is hidden in plain sight: the key to enticing today’s American consumer. Whether they’re picking their entertainment or their political candidates (and yes, you could argue that those are similar, too) a wide swath of today’s voters are looking for something different. They want something other than what “conventional wisdom” would suggest they’ve chosen in the past. Because sometimes you’ve got to sometimes take risks and go against conventional wisdom to come out a winner. Like Deadpool. Or Sanders. Or Trump.
From the bird’s-eye view, what you’re watching is the passing of the torch between generations and between affinity groups. All of a sudden the power of these new constituencies’ pocketbooks and ballots are making themselves known in the marketplace. And like the success of Deadpool, the things that have been changing quietly are now becoming clear for all of us to see.
ComScore’s Dergarabedian got it right when he said that “nobody saw this coming” – even though it has been happening right under our noses all along. Many of us have been looking at the outlier candidates and wondering why they’ve been achieving the notoriety and successes they have without seeing the reasoning behind it – mostly because we haven’t understood the motivations of the voters who have been defying expectations.
But the breakout success Deadpool has enjoyed should act as the second clarion call to help the rest of us peel back the blinders and see the forest for the trees. Quite simply: Consumers are looking for different kinds of solutions, and they’re willing to pay for them with their dollars and their votes. They’re no longer willing to settle for the same old same old, as evidenced by both the poor showing of more mainstream presidential candidates as well as the smaller audiences for sequels in theaters. Tellingly, just like Jeb, Rubio and Clinton have performed below expectations, both “Kung Fu Panda 3” and “Zoolander 2” have had disappointing premieres.
Of course none of these cultural transformations happen linearly; There will a number of unexpected surprises still to come as the pendulum swings harder to one side or the other. But it’s important to pay attention to what’s going on and to understand that while none of us can accurately predict elections, economic trends or movie ticket sales, the market knows. And right now the market is telling us that things are changing and that the time has come for the observant risk takers amongst us to make our move. Or as Baron Rothschild said in the panic that followed the Battle of Waterloo: “Buy when there’s blood in the streets; even if that blood is your own.”