Denzel Washington’s bloody assassin-thriller “The Equalizer 3” debuted at the top of box office charts with $34.5 million over the weekend and an estimated $41 million through Monday’s Labor Day holiday.
It’s the second-biggest Labor Day opening weekend in modern times, though the holiday isn’t known for bringing people to the movies. After the record-holder Marvel’s 2021 blockbuster “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” ($75 million for the three days, $94.6 million through Monday), the next highest-grossing Labor Day debut is Rob Zombie’s 2007 “Halloween” remake ($26 million for the three days, $30 million through Monday).
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Still, the turnout for “Equalizer 3” speaks to Washington’s status as a box office draw. It landed an “A” CinemaScore from audiences and holds a 76% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is the highest of the trilogy.
The film added $26.1 million at the international box office for a global start of $60.6 million. The three-day domestic figure is nearly the same as its predecessors; 2014’s “The Equalizer” debuted to $34 million and 2018’s “The Equalizer 2” debuted to $36 million. The first two films, also directed by Antoine Fuqua, managed to surpass $100 million at the domestic box office and nearly $200 million globally. “Equalizer 3,” which was co-financed by Sony, TSG and Eagle Pictures, cost $70 million and is targeting a similar tally by the end of its run.
“This is a very good opening for an action thriller’s [third installment],” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “Reviews are the best of the series and audience scores are excellent.”
As the summer winds to a close, box office revenues hit $4 billion for the first time in the pandemic era. The notable milestone was possible because of unexpectedly huge hits like Greta Gerwig’s fantasy-comedy “Barbie” ($611 million), Christopher Nolan’s dark historical drama “Oppenheimer” ($304 million) and the Jim Caviezel action-thriller “Sound of Freedom” ($181 million). Those blockbusters made up for underperforming tentpoles like DC’s superhero adaptation “The Flash” and Disney’s remake of “Haunted Mansion.”
“That’s a fantastic result and another positive step for the industry,” adds Gross.
Also this weekend, “Barbie” overtook Universal and Illumination’s animated adventure “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” as the highest-grossing worldwide release of the year with $1.38 billion. At the domestic box office, “Barbie” remained in second place with $9.7 million over the weekend and an estimated $12.6 million through Monday. During its remarkable theatrical run, the Warner Bros. film has been in the top two on North American charts for seven consecutive weeks.
“Blue Beetle” took third place with $6.6 million over the weekend and an estimated $8.6 million through Monday. The comic book movie, starring Xolo Maridueña as the alien symbiote, has generated $57 million in North America and $101.9 million globally, a mediocre result given its $104 million production budget. (Movie theaters get to keep about half of those ticket sales.)
“Gran Turismo,” last weekend’s champion (or runner-up, depending on whom you ask), fell to fourth place with $6.5 million between Friday and Sunday and an estimated $8.4 million through Monday. The $60 million-budgeted racing drama, directed by Neill Blomkamp, has generated just $30.6 million to date.
“Oppenheimer” rounded out the top five with $5.3 million in its seventh weekend of release and an estimated $7 million through Monday. With $310 million at the domestic box office and $540 million internationally, “Oppenheimer” crossed $850 million mark worldwide to become the director’s third-highest grossing film of all time, ahead of “Inception” ($837 million). Of Nolan’s filmography, it’s behind only “The Dark Knight” ($1 billion) and “The Dark Knight Rises” ($1.08 billion).
Elsewhere, MGM’s raunchy high school comedy “Bottoms” added $3 million over the weekend and an estimated $3.6 million through Monday while expanding to 715 screens. The film, which reunites “Shiva Baby” filmmaker Emma Seligman and star Rachel Sennott and adds “The Bear” breakout Ayo Edebiri to the mix, has generated $4.3 million after a week in limited release.