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The Ryan Reynolds Youthquake

ryan reynolds if movie
Reynolds is popular with youngsters for being himself, particularly on social media, rather than the guy who occasionally plays a singular franchise-specific marquee character. Photo: John Nacion/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures
Scott Mendelson
May 20, 2024

So it turns out that IF, John Krasinski’s $110 million live-action/animation fantasy-comedy hybrid, opened at $33.7 million. That was below the prerelease tracking projections but still decent for an original studio programmer. In many ways, the movie had almost everything working against it—a depressing “survive till ’25” box office season, the lack of a Marvel character, a 49 percent Rotten Tomatoes score, etcetera. On the other hand, its potential long-term profitability—via PVOD and third-party licensing, among other things—and even its mere existence largely depend on one factor: Ryan Reynolds.

Reynolds, of course, has forged a notably unorthodox career path, from his TV origins, to the 2000s romantic comedies, and the eventual success of Deadpool, which generated $783 million worldwide in early 2016 and suggested that he was on an inexorable mid-career rise to conventional butts-in-seats stardom. But, as evidenced by the pre-Deadpool commercial missteps like Self/Less, R.I.P.D., and The Change-Up, the R-rated superhero smash wasn’t the final piece to an all-quadrants movie star puzzle.