The third installment of the Denzel Washington franchise achieves its best-ever start and secures the second-highest Labor Day weekend opening ever.
Sony’s “The Equalizer 3,” directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Denzel Washington, is ending the summer season with a strong performance at the box office. The film’s outstanding opening, a franchise record, played a crucial role in pushing domestic summer revenue beyond $4 billion for the first time since the pandemic, marking a significant victory for both Hollywood studios and theater owners. With an estimated four-day opening of $42.3 million, it ranks as the second-largest Labor Day weekend debut, trailing only Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” ($94.7 million). This unusual success during a typically quieter holiday underscores the industry’s efforts to recover from the pandemic’s impact.
The film industry reached the $4 billion mark on Friday, and the final summer revenue for 2023 is expected to reach approximately $4.087 billion by the end of Labor Day weekend. This represents a 19 percent increase compared to 2022, although it still lags behind 2019 by 6 percent. Earlier in the season, summer revenue was concerning, falling 7 percent behind 2022 and 15 percent behind 2019.
Comscore analyst Paul Dergarabedian commented on the industry’s achievement, highlighting the unpredictable and often surprising journey that led to this significant milestone. He mentioned various films like “Barbenheimer” and “Sound of Freedom,” as well as both successful and unexpected misses that characterized the 18-week summer season.
“Equalizer 3” played a crucial role in finishing the season on a high note. Although it was initially projected to earn $30 million over the four-day weekend, strong word-of-mouth and an A CinemaScore boosted its performance. The film attracted a diverse audience, with Caucasians making up 33 percent of Friday ticket buyers, followed by Blacks (31 percent), Latinos (20 percent), and Asians/Other (15 percent), according to PostTrak.
Notably, “Equalizer 3” surpassed its predecessors, with the first film opening at $34.1 million and the sequel at $36 million (not adjusted for inflation). This achievement is remarkable considering Denzel Washington’s limited promotional activities due to an actors’ strike.
Internationally, the movie had a strong start, earning $26.1 million in its initial markets, resulting in a global total of at least $68.4 million through Monday.
In its seventh weekend, Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” maintained its second-place position with an estimated $13.1 million in earnings. This Warner Bros. film achieved a significant milestone on September 1 by surpassing $600 million domestically, outpacing “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” in worldwide box office gross with a total of $1.38 billion. “Barbie” has now become the highest-grossing movie of 2023, having collected $771.5 million overseas.
Moving on to the top five, DC’s “Blue Beetle” is expected to secure the third spot at the Labor Day box office with an estimated four-day gross of $9.2 million, bringing its domestic total to $458.5 million. Despite a soft opening, the film is performing better than anticipated and has crossed the $100 million mark globally.
Meanwhile, Sony’s “Gran Turismo: Based on A True Story” is experiencing a steep 62 percent drop in its second weekend, earning an estimated four-day Labor Day total of $8.6 million. This brings its domestic earnings to $30.7 million and its worldwide total to $81 million.
In its seventh weekend, “Oppenheimer” continues to make headlines by surpassing the $850 million mark globally, becoming Christopher Nolan’s third-highest-grossing film. In North America, it is expected to secure the fifth spot with $7.2 million for the four-day holiday weekend, reaching a domestic total of $310.3 million. Its international earnings stand at $542.7 million, resulting in an estimated total of $853 million by Monday.
MGM’s specialty film “Bottoms,” a teen sex comedy, expanded to 715 locations and performed well, earning an estimated $3.7 million over the four-day holiday period, bringing its domestic total to $4.4 million.
Specialty box office saw more exciting developments as A24’s “Talk to Me,” screened in 1,075 theaters, has now surpassed “Hereditary” to become the highest-grossing horror film in the indie studio’s history, amassing $44.6 million in domestic ticket sales.