Box Office Preview: Denzel Washington's 'The Equalizer' Could Shoot Its Way Past $30 Million
Family offering 'The Boxtrolls' also opens nationwide this weekend
Denzel Washington's The Equalizer, reuniting the actor with his Training Day director Antoine Fuqua, is eyeing an easy win at the North American box office this weekend with a debut north of $30 million.
Sony, which is releasing the $55 million action thriller in more than 3,200 theaters, is being more conservative, suggesting a launch between $25 million and $30 million. Nevertheless, the studio is so keen on the movie's prospects following its premiere at the 2014 Toronto Film Festival that it is already developing a sequel.
Tracking services are divided as to whether the movie will indeed cross $30 million. Some have it opening between $30 million and $35 million, while others peg it south of $30 million (tracking has been notoriously unreliable as of late).
So far, Equalizer, based on the television series created by Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim, is outpacing Washington's previous two films, Two Guns ($27.1 million) and Safe House ($40.2 million), in terms of advance ticket sales, as well as Fuqua's last outing, Olympus Has Fallen ($30.4 million). Equalizer will benefit from playing in Imax theaters and large-format screens, the preferred venue for males. It also features Eminem's new single, "Guts Over Fear," featuring Sia.
The R-rated film stars Washington as McCall, a former member of the special forces who is now leading a quiet life. But when he meets a young girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters, he can’t stand idly by and comes out of his self-imposed retirement to do battle on the streets of Boston.
Sony has waged an aggressive digital marketing campaign for Equalizer, as well as holding tastemaker screenings in 15 major cities with the help of major sports stars such as Michael Strahan, Dwight Howard and Tiger Woods, as well as NFL teams the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers.
The studio made the film in concert with LStar Capital and Village Roadshow Pictures.
Focus Features' 3D family offering The Boxtrolls is the weekend's other new nationwide entry, and is pacing to open in the $11 million to $15 million range, similar to Coraline and ParaNorman, also from Oregon-based animation house Laika and Focus. It debuts in more than 3,400 locations.
Directed by Anthony Stacchi and Graham Annable, Boxtrolls' star-studded voice cast includes Ben Kingsley, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Elle Fanning, Dee Bradley Baker, Steve Blum, Toni Collette, Jared Harris, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, Tracy Morgan and Simon Pegg.
Boxtrolls features a boy named Eggs who has been raised by a community of quirky, mischievous creatures living in a cavernous home beneath the streets of Cheesebridge. When the town’s villain, Archibald Snatcher, comes up with a plot to get rid of the Boxtrolls, Eggs decides to venture aboveground to save the day.
A handful of new films open at the specialty box office, including British drama Pride, directed by Matthew Warchus and starring Bill Nighy.
The critically acclaimed film, playing at both the Cannes and Toronto film festivals this year, is based on the true story of lesbian and gay activists who helped raise money during the U.K. miners' strike in 1984. CBS Films scooped up U.S. rights to the movie, and is releasing Pride in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Magnolia also releases Hossein Amini's The Two Faces of January, starring Kirsten Dunst, Oscar Isaac and Viggo Mortensen, in several theaters.
Targeting the faith-based crowd, Samuel Goldwyn Film launches The Song in several hundred theaters.