According to Deadline, the new version of the movie will be called Once Upon a Deadpool and 20th Century Fox will begin a limited 12-day engagement on Dec. 12, finishing up on Christmas Eve (Dec. 24). The original R-rated cut has been edited to earn a PG-13 rating and make it watchable for younger teens who are on a holiday break from school and not quite old enough to have seen the R-rated version on their own (or brave enough to sneak in, but we didn't say that).
As previously hinted, there is also new footage in the form of a series of framing sequence, created by star Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool 2 director David Leitch and Deadpool writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. Filmed over the course of one day, the eight scenes star Reynolds and an adult Fred Savage in a parody of the scenes from the classic film The Princess Bride, in which a young Savage was told the movie's main story by his grandfather (Peter Falk), who read it from a book.
It's not clear how long the new material runs, but even with the addition of the framing story, the deletion of the movie's raunchier gags means that Once Upon a Deadpool is apparently three minutes shorter than Deadpool 2.
The irony of releasing a PG-13 version of Deadpool 2 is that Reynolds, the writers and the first movie's director, Tim Miller, fought for years to keep the original film R-rated as they patiently stuck by it in development hell. The first movie's $783 million worldwide haul, combined with Deadpool 2's final global tally of $734 million, proved that not all superhero movies had to meet the PG-13 requirement.
Reynolds told Deadline, “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 star revealed that one dollar from each ticket sold for Once Upon a Deadpool will go to the charity F**k Cancer, which Reynolds noted "will be renamed Fudge Cancer just for this limited time and campaign."
Savage, apparently getting into the Deadpool spirit, told Deadline about his involvement, "While my participation in this film was anything but voluntary, I am happy to learn that Fudge Cancer will be the beneficiary of this shameless cash grab.”
While some fans may indeed see the retooled Once Upon a Deadpool as a "shameless cash grab" (especially since Fox has not had any other hits that came remotely close to Deadpool 2 this year), the studio may present it as a way to let younger fans -- who are familiar with the character through his merchandising alone -- get in on the fun.
There's another component to this as well: Disney and Marvel are reportedly watching very closely to see how Once Upon a Deadpool does, as it may provide the blueprint for incorporating the Merc With a Mouth into the firmly PG-13 Marvel Cinematic Universe when Disney completes its takeover of Fox next year. But can Deadpool be Deadpool with a potential muzzle over that potty mouth of his?