Sony’s The Equalizer laid waste to the competition this weekend as the Denzel Washington feature easily took the number one spot at the North American box office. Focus Features’ The Boxtrolls had a respectable third place debut behind Fox’s The Maze Runner while Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy surpassed another milestone in its ninth weekend of release. Thanks to the debuts of The Equalizer and The Boxtrolls, the top ten inched up by six percent over last year at this time.
Reteaming Washington with his Training Day director, Antoine Fuqua (Olympus Has Fallen), The Equalizer overcame mixed notices from critics (59% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes) to avenge a bloody good $35 million in its first three days on 3,236 screens. The $10,816 per screen average was easily the best in the top ten.
The $55 million production is loosely based on the 1980s television series starring the late Edward Woodward as a former intelligence agent turned avenging angel for those who can’t help themselves. In the violent R-rated update, Washington’s vigilante goes up against the Russian Mob after he comes to the aid of a teen prostitute (Chloe Grace-Moretz) brutally beaten by her “employer”.
Audiences were more than ready for a gritty adult action thriller following a summer of underwhelming fantasy flicks high on visual effects and low on thrills. They gave The Equalizer an “A-“ CinemaScore rating, which should translate into Washington’s next $100 million hit. The Equalizer is the actor’s third biggest opening of his career right behind the $40 million earned by 2012’s Safe House and $43 million from 2007’s American Gangster in their debuts.
Last weekend’s number one flick, Fox’s The Maze Runner, kept running in its second outing as the hit feature eased an acceptable 46% to earn $17.5 million from 3,638 screens. After ten days The Maze Runner has earned a solid $58 million and should work its way to approximately $90 million domestically. Overseas, the feature has earned $63 million thus far. The next installment is due in September of 2015.
In third place was the latest animated feature from Laika Animation -the company behind the hits Coraline and ParaNorman– The Boxtrolls. Featuring the voice talents of Ben Kingsley, Toni Collette, Elle Fanning and Simon Pegg, the film tells the tale of a group of creatures dwelling beneath the surface that adopt a young human boy as one of their own. Reviews were largely favorable for the animated feature (71% on Rotten Tomatoes). The $17.2 million opening on 3,424 screens for The Boxtrolls was slightly higher than the ones for Coraline and ParaNorman but lower if one takes inflation into account.
Fourth and fifth place went to a pair of Warner Brothers releases. This is Where I Leave You eased only 39% in its second outing on 2,868 screens where it earned $7 million. After ten days the film has earned $22.5 million and should wind down its run near the $35 million mark. Fifth place went to Dolphin Tale 2, which added $4.8 million from 3,376 theaters. Off 45% from last weekend, the film has earned $33.6 million and should finish with roughly $40 million.
Just outside the top five, Disney/Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy added $3.8 million in its ninth weekend to land in eighth place. This was enough to push the film’s total ($319 million) past 2008’s Iron Man to become Marvel Studio’s third highest grossing domestic release of all time, right behind The Avengers and Iron Man 3. The home video release of Guardians is expected in early December while Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is scheduled to arrive in theaters on July 28th, 2017.
The remainder of the top ten is as follows:
- No Good Deed (Sony) $4.6 million (-53%); $46.6 million
- A Walk Among the Tombstones (Universal) $4.2 million (-67%) $20.8 million
- Let’s Be Cops (Fox) $1.5 million (-44%); $79.6 million
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Paramount) $1.45 million (-45%); $187 million
Next weekend brings the arrival of David Fincher’s Gone Girl and the Conjuring prequel Annabelle.