Once a movie does well at the box-office, the studios would try to figure out the factors that went behind its success. There could be a multitude of reasons, the story, the acting, the direction, the visual effects, the release date, and a combination of some or all of these. It’s not an easy one to decipher. Say, for example, if you were to ponder on what went right for The Hunger Games; was it the casting of Jennifer Lawrence, the popularity of the book, the heavy marketing, or a bit of this and a bit of that. Difficult to zoom in on one aspect. But sometimes it is easy to see the driving force behind a movie, the one thing that stands above all. For a Denzel Washington film, it is usually Denzel Washington. With The Equalizer, 59-year old Denzel Washington has delivered one of his career’s biggest box-office results. The movie opened with $35 million over the weekend in North America which is the third-biggest opening for a Washington movie behind American Gangster ($43.6 million) and Safe House ($40.2 million). The returns though would be high with The Equalizer, as American Gangster was made on a budget of $100 million, Safe House on $85 million, while The Equalizer had only $55 million as its production budget. Denzel Washington’s movies work with the older crowd (and by that we mean those who aren’t teenagers anymore), who bank on his name while buying the ticket and are more often than not pleased with their decision. Washington’s movies tend to open north of $20 million on a consistent basis, and depending on the production budget would either come close to break-even or bring in profits for the studio. A sizeable loss on a Denzel Washington movie is as rare as a black coloured rainbow! His international appeal adds to the box-office collections as well and that is what we can expect to see with The Equalizer which has earned close to $53 million worldwide so far. A fantastic start indeed! Let’s see what kind of figures this one finally ends up with, though rumours are already doing the rounds of a possible sequel, a concept Denzel Washington is yet to explore.
The Boxtrolls, a stop-motion animated film was the other wide release. It earned $17.3 million over the weekend which would have been termed as a decent opening for a stop-motion animation film (second biggest opening in fact in this category behind Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride), but it ain’t really that good considering its budget is said to be about $60 million. The movie has as of now had similar earnings from foreign markets, but we are looking at a worldwide tally of somewhere north of $150 million at least for any possibility of the studio earning profits with this venture. That seems like a tough mark to cross given the way things have begun! The Boxtroll finished behind The Maze Runner which dropped only 46% in its second weekend; that is quite impressive for a young-adult movie. Not only is this movie doing well domestically with a realistic chance of crossing $100 million earnings, it has been shining in foreign markets too, and has amassed close to $150 million worldwide so far (don’t forget the modest budget of $34 million on which the movie was made!). With still a lot of weeks left before its theatrical run ends, this sci-fi thriller is turning into one of the unexpected surprises of the year.
Of the other holdovers, This is Where I Leave You took only a 39% dip in its second weekend which to some extent makes up for its lukewarm opening. On the contrary, A Walk Among the Tombstones dipped by 67% and has domestically earned lesser than This is Where I Leave You in the first 10 days of its release, despite a better opening. This is definitely one of the rare weak Liam Neeson movies post Taken.
So there we bring an end to the month September which does go on a high. Now for the final three months of the year… time to fasten your seat-belts!
Here are the top 5 weekend earners at the US box-office (estimates):
1. The Equalizer ($35 million)
2. The Maze Runner ($17.5 million; second weekend)
3. The Boxtrolls ($17.3 million)
4. This is Where I Leave You ($7.0 million; second weekend)
5. Dolphin Tale 2 ($4.8 million; third weekend)