Box Office: Denzel Washington's Solid Streak Continues With 'The Magnificent Seven'

2:11 PM 9/28/2016

by Stephen Galloway

The $35-million opening of his latest film confirms the star's record for delivering solid hits.

Courtesy of Venice International Film Festival

Once again, with The Magnificent Sevens $35 million opening, Denzel Washington has proved he’s one of Hollywood’s most reliable stars, especially when it comes to opening a mid-budget movie. (The Magnificent Seven, which cost $90 million, is one of his pricier movies.) That places him in an increasingly rare group that includes a few veterans (Tom Hanks in Sully) and one relative newcomer (Jennifer Lawrence in anything).

Insiders will debate whether the movie should have opened stronger, given its hefty ensemble cast. But most studio analysts know Washington has a near-unrivaled record for solid, if not staggering numbers. Here’s a look at his 12 best box office performers ranked.

All numbers are for worldwide box office, per The box office totals do not factor in inflation.

  1. 1

    American Gangster (2007)

    $266 million

    Universal Studios/Photofest

    Based on the story of real-life heroin smuggler Frank Lucas, the movie teamed Washington (playing Lucas) for the first time with director Ridley Scott, and for the second time with Russell Crowe (they’d previously co-starred in Virtuosity).

  2. 2

    Safe House (2012)

    $208 million

    Courtesy of Universal Pictures

    Washington starred with Ryan Reynolds in this spy thriller about an operative who’s being kept in hiding in Cape Town, South Africa. Mixed reviews didn’t get in the way of box office success.

  3. 3

    Philadelphia (1993)

    $207 million

    TriStar PicturesPhotofest

    Who knows if the movie — one of the first mainstream Hollywood pictures to deal with the AIDS crisis — would have been a global hit (and box office phenomenon) if director Jonathan Demme had pursued his original idea of casting Bill Murray in Washington’s role?

  4. 4

    The Pelican Brief (1993)

    $195 million

    Warner Bros./Photofest

    The legal thriller, based on the John Grisham novel, was the second-to-last movie director Alan Pakula shot before his untimely death in 1998.

  5. 5

    The Equalizer (2014)

    $192 million

    Columbia Pictures/Photofest

    Washington is developing a sequel to this tough-guy vehicle, in which he played a vigilante for director Antoine Fuqua, who helped bring the actor an Oscar for his role in Training Day, and also helmed Magnificent Seven.

  6. 6

    Inside Man (2006)

    $184 million

    Universal Pictures/Photofest

    After teaming with Spike Lee on such movies as Malcolm X, Mo’ Better Blues and He Got Game, the actor reunited with the director for a crime thriller about a group of bank robbers.

  7. 7

    Deja Vu (2006)

    $181 million

    Buena Vista/Photofest

    In another of his collaborations with Tony Scott, Washington plays an ATF agent, investigating a case, who literally travels back in time.

  8. 8

    Unstoppable (2010)

    $168 million

    Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation/Photofest

    Washington collaborated for the last time with one of his favorite directors, Tony Scott (Crimson Tide, Man on Fire), on this thriller about a runaway train, before Scott's suicide in 2012.

  9. 9

    Flight (2012)

    $162 million

    Paramount Pictures/Photofest

    Call it the dark side of Sully: This story about a captain who saves his plane from crashing turns ugly when the man is revealed to be an alcoholic.

  10. 10

    Crimson Tide (1995)

    $157 million

    Buena Vista Pictures/Photofest

    Quentin Tarantino was an uncredited writer on this Cold War-esque thriller about two naval officers in conflict on a submarine. The Navy objected to its depiction of an on-board mutiny.

  11. 11

    The Book of Eli (2010)

    $157 million

    Warner Bros/Photofest

    This apocalyptic drama with Washington as a nomad trying to deliver a mysterious book did a lot better with audiences than critics.

  12. 12

    The Bone Collector (1999)

    $151 million


    Washington plays a quadriplegic detective who teams with Angelina Jolie in their first and only collaboration.