1. The Equalizer – $35 million – [debut week] Denzel Washington continues to be box office gold for studios in this second half of his career. As far as opening weekends for Washington, this is his third best, trailing 2007’s “American Gangster” ($43.5 million) and 2012’s “Safe House” ($40 million) — a marked improvement from his first collaboration with Director Antoine Fuqua, Washington’s Oscar winning role in “Training Day” only opened to $22.5 million, but led to a major upswing in Washington’s box office bankability. Interesting note: Washington’s 11 films before “Training Day” on average had an opening weekend right around $10.5 million. The 11 films after “Training Day” fared far better averaging $20.9 million. The film exceeded expectations to have the third highest grossing live action September opening behind “Insidious: Chapter 2” ($40.2 million) and “Sweet Home Alabama” ($35.6 million). Sony Pictures has already greenlit a sequel and has screenwriter Richard Wenk working on the follow-up, which would be the first for both Washington and Fuqua.
2. The Maze Runner – $17.5 million [2nd week; $58 million] The YA sci-fi film was in a tight race for second place, but showed very solid staying power in its second week, holding much better than most recent films in the genre.
3. The Boxtrolls – $17.2 million [debut week] – Laika Animation had its biggest opening yet as the well-received Boxtrolls bested previous efforts “ParaNorman” ($14 million) and Coraline ($16.8 million). There’s not any animated competition in theaters right now so don’t be surprised if this has a substantial run in the Top 5 this fall.
5. Dolphin Tale 2 – $4.8 million [3rd week; $33.7 million] – The family film wrapped up the Top 5 and likely it’s last week in that top tier. It should wrap its run just under $40 million.