Deadpool news: Reynolds declares ‘War of the Popcorn Buckets’

Ryan Reynolds this week unveiled arguably the most anticipated and sure-to-be coveted merchandise tied to his upcoming film “Deadpool & Wolverine”: the movie’s novelty popcorn bucket.

Said to be designed by Deadpool himself, the bucket, modeled after Wolverine, features a large opening akin to the quick-healing mutant’s wide-open mouth, complete with the low-key vulgar suggestion of a tongue (it’s from the famously inappropriate Deadpool, after all).

In his social media post announcing the buzzy item, Reynolds wrote, “Years from now they will look back at 2024 as the year the War of the Popcorn Buckets began.”

What “war” could he possibly be referring to and why the hype around these movie snack containers, anyway? Popcorn buckets, in case you haven’t noticed, are having a major moment.

The first round of 2024 bucket battles, one might argue, was won in March by a “Dune: Part Two” popcorn bucket so strange it spawned a “Saturday Night Live” skit).

The appeal of these buckets – also referred to as “concession vessels” or even “Collectible Concession Vehicles” to include specialty beverage containers and the like – is wide, attracting both seasoned collectors and casual movie fans.

“Seeing an item at the movie theater of my favourite characters draws me in,” said collector Shahji Adam in an email to CNN. Adam, who also collects other pop culture products like Funko Pop figures, described his passion for popcorn buckets as “fun nostalgia” for items that help him remember the feeling of watching a particular movie for the first time.

A brief history of the bucket

Branded popcorn buckets began popping up in the 1990s at Disney theme parks before they made their way to theaters in marketing campaigns.

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AMC’s Nels Storm, vice president of food & beverage strategy and leader of the merchandise team, points to 2019 as a turning point in the novelty concession vessel’s evolution.

Popcorn buckets are pictured during the “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” concert movie world premiere at AMC The Grove in Los Angeles in 2023. (Valerice Macon/AFP/Getty Images via CNN Newsource)

“We experimented with versions of plastic popcorn tubs and beverage vessels with film branding for years. The real inception of the current program kicked off in 2019 when we introduced the R2-D2 vessel to the movie-going public,” Storm said, in reference to the famous android-shaped popcorn containers that came out in support of that year’s “Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker.”

Noting how the R2-D2 buckets sold out at AMC locations around the country on opening night, Storm added that “it was clear there was bigger potential in this space.”

Since then, other in-demand popcorn buckets have included the Ghostbusters Ecto-1 car, Thor’s hammer Mjölnir, Dominic Toretto’s Charger, the Wonka hat and a Barbie car, Storm said.

AMC even recently brought back the R2-D2 popcorn bucket for this year’s May the Fourth “Star Wars” Day, in support of the rerelease of “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.”

That bucket is Adam’s favourite, as seen on his TikTok.

“It’s gigantic and I love that the head of R2 is where you put the drink and the body is for the popcorn!” he said.

As with many collectibles, some buckets are hard to come by

Roland Romero, a popcorn bucket devotee with a YouTube playlist of his impressive collection, noted the vessels are globally popular and not always easy to obtain. Some movie theater chains might be out of region or make the items available for a limited run, Romero said.

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“The only trick is that for nearly all these collectable items, guests wanting to get the latest will want to make sure they’re seeing the movie on opening weekend, and in many cases, opening night,” Storm noted.

He added that the R2-D2 buckets sold out both times they were made available to the public, and that the Ecto-1 car popcorn vessel “flew out of the theatres during the initial hours” of “Ghostbusters Afterlife’s” opening night in November 2021.

What’s coming next in this bucket ‘war’

Theater chains are eager to entice audiences to come and eat popcorn at the movies instead of on their couches at home, so that means more sassy snack holders to come.

“The sky is the limit,” with where things might go, Storm said, adding that AMC is “always pushing boundaries” to make going to the movies a fun and worthwhile event.

And if you thought reaching into the giant mouth of a sandworm from Arrakis was gross, just wait until other horror-related merchandising items come down the pike.

Adam said that because he’s a horror movie fan, he’s excited for the “Alien: Romulus” bucket, which is rumored to be in the form of a Xenomorph – or, the extremely dangerous and disgusting, two-mouthed, acid-for-blood extraterrestrial at the centre of that storied franchise.

Be warned. The battle continues.

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