There’s really no point to a PG-13 Deadpool movie, especially now that the property has been established as an R-rated behemoth at the box office. But 20th Century Fox can’t stop looking over at the teen demographic and the money they could spend on the foul-mouthed superhero. So now there’s a compromise with a PG-13 version of Deadpool 2 arriving in December. Deadline reports that the new version is titled Once Upon a Deadpool and it will be released in a limited engagement starting on December 12th and running through Christmas Eve.
Per Deadline, “The lion’s share of Once Upon Deadpool is footage from Deadpool 2 that has been edited to meet PG-13 thresholds of violence and language. There’s also new footage in the form of a framing sequence that was conceived by Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. Working with a small film crew, Reynolds and his cohorts filmed all the framing scenes in a single hectic day of guerrilla-style filmmaking.”
However, this isn’t totally a cash-in for Fox that wants to woo teenagers who are on their winter break. Reynolds tells Deadline, ““Because it’s the season of giving, we will also be giving $1 for every ticket sold to F-ck Cancer, which will be renamed Fudge Cancer just for this limited time and campaign.”
So what made Reynolds budge on finally doing a PG-13 Deadpool movie? He says, “Fox has been asking for a PG-13 basically since the start in 2006. I’ve said no since 2006. Now, this one time, I said ‘Yes’ on two conditions. First, a portion of the proceeds had to go to charity. Second, I wanted to kidnap Fred Savage. The second condition took some explaining…”
But it’s not all about charity, and it’s not all about Fred Savage. Deadpool is incredibly valuable to 20th Century Fox, and repackaging it as PG-13 not only gives the studio a double dip during a month where they don’t have a new release, but it also gives the movie a chance at playing in China. Most importantly, the PG-13 release is “being watched closely by the leadership at Disney and its Marvel Studios and may inform the way they incorporate Deadpool into their plans.”
That’s where it gets tricky. Right now, Deadpool is an R-rated brand that’s about to be under Disney’s control when Fox merges with Disney at the end of the year. Disney does not release R-rated movies. Now, it’s possible they keep Fox as a separate entity that can release R-rated fare like Deadpool. But then you’ve got the complication of Marvel Studios, which doesn’t really want to do anything above a PG-13. So if Once Upon a Deadpool is suddenly a hit at the box office, then there’s data that says, “People like this character enough to see him in a PG-13 movie.” But if the gambit fails, it’s possible that Deadpool just doesn’t play with the other Marvel characters, which isn’t the worst thing in the world.