Deadpool 2 is returning to theaters this December, but not in the way you’d expect. As previously reported, the famously foul-mouthed superhero sequel is getting a second theatrical run but as a toned-down PG-13-rated Christmas version titled Once Upon A Deadpool, according to Deadline.
As teased by star Ryan Reynolds back in September, Once Upon A Deadpool will fill in the R-rated edits with a new frame narrative that rips off / pays homage to the fan-favorite film The Princess Bride, where a much, much older Fred Savage reprises his role as a bed-ridden child. However, Once Upon A Deadpool will replace Peter Falk’s kindly grandfather with Deadpool as the storyteller instead.
As Deadline first reported when news broke on the possibility of a PG-13 Deadpool 2 re-release, the change is largely due to the fact that distributor Fox needed to fill a sudden gap in its release schedule after bumping Alita: Battle Angel from December to February 14th, 2019 (when it will have the advantage of coinciding with the Chinese New Year). In turn, that bumped the upcoming Dark Phoenix X-Men sequel to the summer when Fox anticipates better reception in prime blockbuster season.
Re-editing Deadpool 2, on the other hand, is a relatively low-lift effort; Deadline notes that the Reynolds / Savage frame scenes were filmed in a single day. That still gives Fox something to show audiences during the lucrative Christmas season. Once Upon A Deadpool will have a pretty short run, from just December 12th through Christmas Eve. Additionally, $1 for every ticket sold will be donated to the Fuck Cancer charity, which Reynolds says was a condition of his for doing the PG-13 cut.
A PG-13 Deadpool cut could have more value beyond just filling a gap in the schedule for Fox. With the upcoming Disney merger, Fox — and Deadpool — are about to be under new management that is infamously intolerant of racy content that could damage or tarnish the House of Mouse’s squeaky-clean, family-friendly brand. One need only look to the recent James Gunn controversy to see that Disney has little patience for anyone who casts a shadow on that image, regardless of how successful they’ve been in bringing in box office dollars.
Given the powerhouse position that the Marvel Studios-produced MCU films occupy in the Disney pantheon, it’s easy to see how there’s less room for fewer R-rated antics. A successful PG-13 run could go a long way toward convincing audiences and Disney executives alike that Deadpool’s humor can still work in a more family-friendly fashion — and that could make all the difference when the new ownership of the character kicks in.