Fox set to 'crank up the volume' with 'Logan', testing the waters for R-rated superhero films

To be sure, "Deadpool" succeeded not just because it featured graphic violence and language. It was also bolstered by a deft social media campaign and gave audiences a fresh take on the superhero genre, in part by poking fun at it.

But an R-rating also makes sense for Jackman's final appearance as the X-Men's enforcer because the character has always been rooted in a history of violence. "Logan" features a weakened, aging Wolverine who is coming to terms with that legacy.

"To be able to crank up the volume to 11 is a great way to get audiences really excited about these movies, particularly for characters like Wolverine and Deadpool who have a hard edge to them," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore.

"These are really intense characters that I think, in order to be fully fleshed out, almost require the R-rated treatment."

Critics seem to agree. "Logan" has a 96 percent rating among 71 critics on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.

Movie-goers also seem to be energized. "Logan" was the third most talked about movie on social media in the week through Feb. 19, behind "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" and the upcoming live-action " and the Beast," according to comScore data.

"Logan" has also largely kept pace with the social media darling "Deadpool" on Instagram, according to engagement measuring firm Spredfast.

The film is tracking for a roughly $60 million opening at the U.S. box office, though some put that figure higher. BoxOffice.com is projecting a roughly $80 million opening, and chief analyst Shawn Robbins says forecasts are trending higher.

"Logan's momentum has continued to sharpen in a big way thanks to Fox's strong ad campaign and ecstatic reviews from critics. Social media buzz reflects significant interest driven by those factors as well as the film's R rating and Jackman's final turn as the iconic character," he said in an email.

CNBC

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