Denzel Washington wasn’t kidding in Training Day when he said, “King Kong ain’t got nothing on me!”—at least as far as the opening weekend box office is concerned. As Deadline reports, The Equalizer 3 will end its Labor Day weekend haul with $42 million in ticket sales, the second-best Labor Day weekend ever behind 2021’s Shang-Chi. And yes, it also beat King Kong’s opening weekend grosses—at least the 1933 and 1976 iterations.
Denzel Washington’s The Equalizer 3 lands the second-best Labor Day weekend opening ever with a $42 million haul.
Equalizer 3 had the highest opening weekend for the series yet, beating out both 2014’s The Equalizer ($34.1 million) and 2018’s The Equalizer 2 ($35.8 million), but its most impressive feat has been pushing the 2023 summer box office past the $4 billion mark—a post-pandemic first. While a good chunk of that number comes from the mega-blockbuster Barbie, Denzel Washington’s big Labor Day weekend certainly helped. It helps that director Antoine Fuqua seems to be avoiding most of the fatigue and lack of creativity that often comes once a series reaches its third entry.
The movie’s opening weekend earnings are even more impressive, considering Denzel Washington wasn’t allowed to do any promotion for The Equalizer 3 due to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike.
While lots of action franchises grow stale by their second sequel—Terminator 3, Rambo III, Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift—the Equalizer series is still going strong. It helps that Denzel Washington loves playing the role of Robert McCall, as evidenced by the fact that the Equalizer films are the only “franchise” in Washington’s filmography. An actor of Denzel’s caliber and integrity wouldn’t be making a movie with a “3” in the title unless it was up to his standards, which clearly, The Equalizer 3 is.
The movie’s opening weekend earnings are even more impressive, considering Denzel Washington wasn’t allowed to do any promotion for The Equalizer 3 due to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike. On one hand, sequels kind of sell themselves just by being a continuation of something audiences already enjoyed the first time around.
On the other hand, imagine how much more money the movie could have made if Denzel Washington was allowed to comment on Google searches featuring his name or attempt to answer questions with a mouthful of hot-sauce-drenched chicken.
It’s again a testament to just how much love and care went into The Equalizer 3—to say nothing of how much audiences enjoy seeing Denzel Washington’s handsome mug on the big screen—that a third franchise installment was able to beat out a pair of (hopefully) franchise-beginning films.
Meanwhile, the unstoppable Barbie held onto the #2 position this weekend, adding an additional $12.6 million to its already record-setting $1.38 billion worldwide box office total. That makes seven consecutive weeks where Warner Bros. plastic moneymaker has been in either the #1 or #2 spot at the movies.
Third place went to Blue Beetle with an estimated $8.6 million Labor Day haul. The Latino-focused DC film starring Xolo Mariduena is still hanging in there, slowly crawling its way toward a modest profit for Warner Bros.
Gran Turismo, a video game movie in name only, fell to #4 this weekend with a gross of $8.4 million—only slightly behind the azure insect in #3. It’s again a testament to just how much love and care went into The Equalizer 3—to say nothing of how much audiences enjoy seeing Denzel Washington’s handsome mug on the big screen—that a third franchise installment was able to beat out a pair of (hopefully) franchise-beginning films.
There’s been speculation that this might be the last Equalizer film with Fuqua and Denzel Washington, and if that’s true, at least the franchise is going out with a bang.