‘Equalizer 3’ Box Office: Denzel Washington Wins Over Older Adults in Rare Feat for Any Actor

Older moviegoers have long been notorious for staying home on opening weekend. Prevailing wisdom suggests they’d rather avoid crowds and see a particular film down the road, if they decide to take a trip to the cinema at all. And since the pandemic, adults 45 and older have become even more difficult to win over amid the proliferation of streaming content in the home.

Sony’s The Equalizer 3 is an exception to that rule, and a testament to the star status of Denzel Washington, 68. The movie — reuniting the actor with filmmaker Antoine Fuqua — opened to a better-than-expected $42.8 million domestically at the Labor Day weekend box office. That’s a near record for the four-day holiday behind Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings ($94.7 million), released two years go. Until now, the second best opening for Labor Day belonged to Halloween‘s $30.6 million in 2007, not adjusted for inflation.

More from The Hollywood Reporter

Among those buying tickets to see the $70 million budgeted Equalizer threequel, 84 percent were 25 and older (that’s an unusual split). And moviegoers 45 and older made up a staggering 50 percent all ticket buyers, including 24 percent between the ages of 45 and 54 and 26 percent 55 and older, according to exit polling service PostTrak.

“Older adults are a discerning and important audience with discretionary income that movie theaters and studios are wise to recognize as a key and integral part of their success now and moving forward,” says Comscore box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

Older consumers also turned out this summer for Disney and Lucasfilm’s Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, but not in large enough numbers to secure an impressive opening for the Harrison Ford film, or ultimately, for a successful run. Dial of Destiny posted a three-day domestic opening of $60.4 million over the June 30-July 2 weekend, and $83.9 million through July 4th — a soft number given its hefty $300 million budget. Among ticket buyers on opening weekend, 42 percent were people 45 and up, including 23 percent who were 55 and older.

Equalizer 3 also benefited greatly from playing to an ethnically diverse audience. Black moviegoers made up 34 percent of all ticket buyers, followed by Caucasians (31 percent), Latinos (21 percent), Asians (8 percent) and other (6 percent), per PostTrak.

Equalizer 3 was also impressive in appealing to both males and females at 54 percent and 46 percent, respectively (that compares to 58 percent and 42 percent for Dial of Destiny).

There’s more. Equalizer 3 — earning a glowing A CinemaScore from audiences — provided the final boost needed to push domestic summer revenue past $4 billion for the first time in the post-pandemic era, as well as boasting a franchise-best start in North America.

The first Equalizer opened domestically to $34.1 million, followed by $36 million for the sequel, not adjusted for inflation. The opening performance of Equalizer 3, which was co-financed by TSG and Eagle Pictures, is particularly noteworthy considering Washington couldn’t fully promote the film because of the actors strike.

Gran Turismo, another late summer pic impacted by the strike, has had trouble maintaining speed despite appealing to consumers between 18 and 35, the most avid moviegoing demo. Also from Sony, Gran Turismo opened nationwide to $17.4 million over the Aug. 25-26 weekend, including a hefty $3.9 million in advance sneaks. Normally, it would be Gran Turismo waving the checkered flag, and not a film like Equalizer 3 that’s being fueled by older moviegoers.

“Washington’s name alone is a brand that inspires confidence, trust and goodwill with audiences,” says Dergarabedian. “And that’s money in the bank.”

Best of The Hollywood Reporter

Click here to read the full article.