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Box office report: 'Equalizer' dominates with impressive $35 million debut

Lots of high fives at the Sony offices today, as their don’t-mess-with-Denzel-Washington revenge flick The Equalizer walked away with a $35 million opening. “We’re really, really happy, but we were very bullish on the movie,” says Rory Bruer, Sony’s President of Worldwide Distribution. “It’s a film that we all love and it just delivers in a big way. Denzel couldn’t be more terrific in the role – you can’t take your eyes off this guy.” The movie’s success—director Antoine Fuqua’s best opening to date, Washington’s third best—is a testament to audience’s appreciation of Washington in tough lone wolf roles. Reviews were decidedly “eh”, but audiences gave the film a hearty A- CinemaScore.  (Women too like their Washington on the fearsome side; females made up 48 percent of the audiences.) The Equalizer fared well in its IMAX release as well, playing on 352 domestic screens and raking in a global IMAX cume of $5 million.

Washington left the other new releases in the dust. The Boxtrolls collected $17.25 million, thereby narrowly ceding the No. 2 spot to last week’s No. 1 The Maze Runner. (The YA adaptation dropped 46.2 percent from last weekend, pulling in $17.5 million. That brings Maze Runner‘s domestic tally to just over $58 million.) Folks behind The Boxtrolls, the first animated film since July, have reason to cheer. The fantastical film, which benefitted from the voices of Tracy Morgan, Toni Collette, Elle Fanning, and Ben Kingsley, marked the best debut for animation studio LAIKA (Coraline, Paranorman) and should continue to play well to family-friendly audiences.

Meanwhile audiences craving adult dramedy helped This Is Where I Leave You, the star-studded adaptation of Jonathan Tropper’s tragicomic novel, helped keep the movie afloat. In it second week of release the film pulled in $7 million, dropping just 39 percent to hold onto the No. 4 spot.

Rounding out the top five is the earnest-hearted Dolphin Tale 2—starring dolpjins, some innocent-faced children and Morgan Freeman in a snazzy fedora—which squeaked out $4.8 million. Liam Neeson has been on a great roll lately but his latest shoot-em-up A Walk Among the Tombstones dropped out of the top 5, plunging a whopping 67 percent in its second week of release and limping away with $4.2 million. That brings the violent film’s domestic total to $20.9 million.

In limited release, CBS Films gay and labor rights movie PRIDE grossed an admirable $84,791 in six locations. Armed with a solid A CinemaScore, look for word-of-mouth to grow.

Top Five Films of the Weekend:

The Equalizer — $35 million

The Maze Runner — $17.5 million

The Boxtrolls — $17.25 million

This is Where I Leave You — $7 million

Dolphin Tale 2 — $4.8 million

 

Box office update: 'Equalizer' levels competition with nearly $13 million Friday

Denzel Washington and director Antoine Fuqua continue to make an unstoppable duo. The Equalizer, starring a fierce Washington as a former black ops agent drawn back into the game by a troubled prostitute (Chloe Grace Moretz) who’s targeted by Russian gangsters, raked in an impressive $12.6 million on Friday. Early bets from Sony low-balled first weekend numbers in the high 20-millions range. Estimates now suggest the movie will pull in closer to $36 million by weekend’s end, buoyed by Washington’s reliable charisma and A- CinemaScore reviews. A sequel is already in the works, which would be the first of Washington’s long and impressive career.

Meanwhile, the weekend’s other wide The Boxtrolls, Focus and Laika’s offering about some fantastical creatures who tenderly raise an orphaned human boy, landed third place with $4.93 million. The stop-motion animated film is looking to pull in a $16 million weekend kitty, which is right in line with studio predictions. It’ll have a shot at grabbing the No. 2 spot if kids turn out as expected on Saturday and Sunday.

In its second week of release, the YA adaptation The Maze Runner pulled in $5.2 million, on track for a $16 million opening. The family drama This is Where I Leave You, an adaptation of Jonathan Tropper’s sharp opus of messy grown up siblings gathered together in mourning, takes the fourth spot with $2.2 million and Liam Neeson’s A Walk Among the Tombstones tip toes down to fifth with a modest $1.3 million. Parents looking for some down time keep Dolphin Tale 2 afloat. The wholesome sequel ties at No. 5 with the grisly Walk.

1. The Equalizer  $12.6 million

2. The Maze Runner  $5.2 million

3. The Boxtrolls  $4.9 million

4. This is Where I Leave You  $2.2 million

5. A Walk Among the Tombstones  $1.3 million

5. Dolphin Tale 2 — $1.3 million

Check back here tomorrow morning for a full weekend report.

 

Denzel Washington, Antoine Fuqua answer readers' 'Equalizer' questions

Antoine Fuqua and Denzel Washington’s revival of The Equalizer is poised to rule the box office this weekend. The film is based on the 1980s television series of the same name—and favorite show of Max Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street—but Fuqua and Washington have put a modern twist on the classic thriller.

READ FULL STORY

Critical Mass: Denzel gets his hands dirty in 'The Equalizer'

My first question about The Equalizer after seeing the trailer was, “Why even bother calling it The Equalizer?”

After all, it’s not as if The Equalizer—a 1980s CBS detective drama starring Edward Woodward as a Good Samaritan retired intelligence agent—was a brand that still lured audiences. Antoine Fuqua’s violent action movie with Denzel Washington exists in an entirely different universe, the brutal and vengeful cinematic neighborhood of Charles Bronson, Liam Neeson, and Washington himself. Call it The Equalizer or call it Man on Fire 2—this is a Denzel action film, first and last.

The film doesn’t borrow much from the television show, though Washington does play a haunted retired intel agent by the name of Robert McCall. He works at a Boston-area Home Depot-like store, lives modestly in solitude, rides public transportation, and reads classic novels while hanging out at the local 24-hour diner. But when he befriends a diner companion, a neighborhood hooker (Chloë Grace Moretz) who is roughed up by her Russian-mob bosses, he can’t help but put his skills to use. His Russian equivalent (Marton Csokas) is quickly dispatched to Boston to solve the mob’s problem, and from there on, it’s R-rated clobberin’ time.

Washington and Fuqua, who collaborated on Training Day, which won the actor an Oscar, are aiming a little lower this time. “As the ex-CIA operative Bob, now demoted to cutting wood at a Home Mart, Washington can’t suppress his natural gravitas even though the role is meant for a dweebier actor,” writes EW’s Joe McGovern, in his review.

Read more from EW’s review, as well as a roundup of other notable critics, below. READ FULL STORY

Box office preview: Denzel Washington eyes top spot with 'The Equalizer'

Denzel Washington is gearing up to show his box office might once more as The Equalizer debuts in 3,234 theaters, including IMAX and other premium large format screens, starting with early Thursday-night showings. The R-rated Columbia Pictures action thriller, which re-teams Washington with his Training Day director Antoine Fuqua, will easily win the weekend, beating out last week’s champ The Maze Runner and this week’s other new opener, the family-friendly The Boxtrolls.

Here’s how things might play out:

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Denzel Washington keeps the 'walk away from an explosion' trope alive

hugh-jackman

If an actor has played the hero or villain in an action film in the last few decades, there’s a good chance he or she walked away from an explosion and looked cool while doing it. There’s no shortage of examples—more than enough for Andy Samberg and his Lonely Island bandmates to make a music video about it—and many actors have pulled off the impressive and unrealistic feat multiple times.

Among the repeat walkers-away are Denzel Washington, who even ignored an explosion in the poster for Man on Fire. Washington will look to perfect his explosion walk (walksplosion?) again in The Equalizer, and in honor of the film’s release on Sept. 26, The Guardian has asked readers to prove their knowledge of cool guys not looking at explosions.

The Guardian has put together a quiz pulling from some of the most famous examples—and a few more obscure ones for younger moviegoers—of the time-honored movie trope. It’s best to take the quiz while listening to Samberg’s vocals and J.J. Abrams’ smooth keyboard solo for a little inspiration. READ FULL STORY

'The Equalizer' trailer: Denzel Washington fights to the tune of Eminem -- VIDEO

Wouldn’t it be great if Eminem provided the music to an action movie? The trailer for The Equalizer gives us a look into this beautiful, beautiful fantasy, featuring a preview of a new collaboration between the artist and Sia.

But the trailer for The Equalizer isn’t short on its own thrills. Denzel Washington plays McCall, a man who believes he’s put his violent past behind him until he’s drawn into protecting Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz). The old fighting instincts spring back and Washington finds himself righting wrongs, fighting for the weak, and getting on the wrong side of some Russian gangsters. READ FULL STORY

Denzel Washington plays a dark knight in 'The Equalizer' trailer -- VIDEO

In The Equalizer, Denzel Washington plays a former government op with a particular set of skills. They include dispatching five Russian thugs in less than 20 seconds. Part Taken, part The Professional, The Equalizer is based on the 1980s television series that starred Edward Woodward as a mysterious pro-bono vigilante with a dark past. In Antoine Fuqua’s 21st century update, Washington plays a hero in a world “where knights don’t exist anymore” — so when he sees a young woman (Chloë Grace Moretz) manhandled by pimps, he steps in and metes out justice.

I’m not sure this movie had to be titled The Equalizer, but it looks like fun. READ FULL STORY

Casting Net: Idris Elba in talks for Sean Penn action pic; Plus, 'Veronica Mars' updates, more

• Idris Elba (Prometheus) is in talks to join Sean Penn and Javier Bardem in the action flick The Gunman. Taken‘s Pierre Morel is set to direct the project about what happens when an international operative is betrayed by his organization. Elba’s being considered for the role of Dupont, vaguely described as a “mysterious operative.” The story is based on Jean-Patrick Manchette‘s novel The Prone Gunman. [THR]

• Ray Winstone (The Departed) has also joined The Gunman. He’ll play a mentor to Penn’s character. [Deadline]
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Casting Net: Johnny Depp exits gangster pic 'Black Mass'; Plus, Forest Whitaker may play Martin Luther King, Jr., more

• Johnny Depp is a busy man. He’s got a major summer release on the horizon with The Lone Ranger, he’s filming Wally Pfister’s Transcendence, Pirates of the Caribbean 5 is expected to start shooting in January, and he’s also gearing up for Disney’s adaptation of Into the Woods. But, the actor did decide to exit the Barry Levinson-directed Whitey Bulger biopic Black Mass, reportedly due to a salary cut asked of Depp, who had been circling the project for some time and officially committed in late February 2013. Joel Edgerton (Zero Dark Thirty) recently joined Black Mass to play an FBI agent who is close with Bulger. Cross Creek Pictures has not yet announced a replacement. [THRREAD FULL STORY

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