Denzel Washington’s The Equalizer 3 made a killing at the Labor Day weekend box office, earning an estimated $34.5 million between Friday and Sunday, according to studio figures compiled by Comscore.
The Sony Pictures release from director Antoine Fuqua is projected to earn $42 million when Monday’s holiday ticket sales are added in.
“The Equalizer 3 did well because men haven’t had an action movie to go see in a long time and Denzel Washington is still one of the few remaining true movie stars on the planet,” Shawn Edwards, film critic for Fox 4 News in Kansas City, Missouri and executive producer of the Critics Choice Association’s “Celebration of Black Cinema & TV,” told Urban Hollywood 411 on Sunday.
The film scored the second-best Labor Day weekend debut of all-time, after Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings opened in 2021 with $75 million over three days and $94.6 million through Monday. The previous second-place holder was Rob Zombie’s 2007 Halloween remake, which earned $26 million in three days and $30 million through Monday.
Overseas, The Equalizer 3 made $26 million, for a global total of $60.6 million through Sunday. Those numbers are 19 percent ahead of the previous installment and 29 percent higher than the original film, Comscore reported.
This third installment of the franchise follows Washington’s retired government assassin Robert McCall leaving Boston behind for a quiet life in Naples, Italy. But as the mafia wreaks havoc on local residents, McCall activates his stopwatch and unleashes a wave of vigilante justice.
Dakota Fanning co-stars in the film, marking the first time she’s teamed up with Washington on screen since Man on Fire in 2004, when she was 10 years old. The cast also includes David Denman, Eugenio Mastrandrea, Gaia Scodellaro, and Andrea Scarduzio.
A surprising twist at the end of The Equalizer 3, reveals Fanning’s character is connected to the previous two films.
This latest chapter, which is said to be the final installment of the franchise, posted similar opening numbers to the two previous films. The Equalizer opened domestically with $34 million in 2014, and The Equalizer 2 debuted to $36 million in 2018.
The difference this time, The Equalizer 3 opened amid the ongoing Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA strikes, with actors barred from promoting studio projects.
“Denzel Washington is the very definition of a movie star and his star shines so bright that his name alone is enough for the audience to get on board and head out to the multiplex even without his ability to actively promote The Equalizer 3,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, said Sunday, adding that the film proves Washington is “undeniably one of the greatest and most bankable stars working today.”
The first two films in the franchise, also directed by Fuqua, went on to make about $200 million worldwide. The third film, which cost a reported $70 million to produce, is expected to post similar earnings by the end of its box-office run.
Loosely based on the 1985 TV series created by Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim, The Equalizer 3 is written by Richard Wenk.
Moviegoers liked what they saw, giving the film a stellar “A” CinemaScore.
The audience was 55 percent male, Deadline reported. In terms of diversity demos, 33 percent were Caucasian, 31 percent Black, 20 percent Latino and Hispanic, and 15 percent Asian/other.
Critics embraced the movie, handing it a 76 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. Most praised Washington’s performance and the film’s scenic locations in Italy. Although some criticized the movie’s “sadistic violence.”
Elsewhere this weekend at the domestic box office, Barbie came in second place with $10.6 million in its seventh week of release.
Blue Beetle was third with $7.2 million Friday through Sunday in its third weekend in theaters.
Last weekend’s leader, Gran Turismo slipped to fourth place with $6.5 million. Oppenheimer rounded out the top five with $5.5 million in its seventh week.