'The Equalizer' Impresses with $34.1M Start; 'The Maze Runner' Holds Up Well with $17.4M; 'The Boxtrolls' Debuts in Third with Very Solid $17.3MSeptember 29, 2014 01:07 PM

by Daniel Garris

Sony's The Equalizer debuted in first place this weekend with a strong start of $34.14 million. The action thriller starring Denzel Washington debuted towards the higher end of pre-release expectations, which were lofty, especially for the month of September. Without adjusting for ticket price inflation, The Equalizer delivered the fourth largest opening weekend ever for the month of September (behind only 2012's Hotel Transylvania, 2013's Insidious Chapter 2 and 2002's Sweet Home Alabama). The film's debut represented the third largest opening weekend performance ever for Washington (behind only 2007's American Gangster and 2012's Safe House). The Equalizer opened 4 percent stronger than the $32.79 million start of 2010's The Book of Eli and 15 percent below the $40.17 million start of Safe House.

The Equalizer opened with $12.49 million on Friday (which included an estimated $1.5 million from Thursday night shows), increased 8 percent on Saturday to gross $13.49 million and declined 40 percent on Sunday to take in $8.15 million. That placed the film's opening weekend to Friday ratio at 2.73 to 1. The audience breakdown for the film skewed slightly towards male moviegoers (52 percent) and towards moviegoers 30 years and older (65 percent). The Equalizer received an A- rating on CinemaScore, which is an encouraging sign for the film going forward.

The Maze Runner placed in second with $17.44 million. The young adult adaptation from Fox held up relatively well this weekend, as it was down 46 percent from last weekend's strong start. The Maze Runner has grossed $57.96 million in ten days and continues to display strong early holding power for a young adult adaptation. Thanks in part to a significantly stronger second weekend hold, The Maze Runner is now running 32 percent ahead of the $44.01 million ten-day take of last year's Ender's Game and is already on the verge of reaching the $61.74 million final domestic gross of Ender's Game.

The Boxtrolls was off to a very solid third place start this weekend with $17.28 million. The latest 3D stop motion animated film from Focus and Laika debuted a bit above pre-release expectations. Compared to previous films from Focus and Laika, The Boxtrolls opened 23 percent ahead of the $14.09 million start of 2012's ParaNorman and a slim 3 percent ahead of the $16.85 million start of 2009's Coraline. ParaNorman and Coraline both displayed terrific holding power and going forward The Boxtrolls will hope to accomplish the same.

The Boxtrolls opened with $4.93 million on Friday, increased a strong 51 percent on Saturday to gross $7.46 million and declined 34.5 percent on Sunday to gross $4.89 million. That placed the film's opening weekend to Friday ratio at 3.51 to 1. The audience breakdown for the film skewered towards female moviegoers (57 percent). The Boxtrolls received a solid B+ rating on CinemaScore.

Warner's This Is Where I Leave You placed in fourth with $6.89 million. The modestly budgeted comedy starring Jason Bateman and Tina Fey held up well this weekend, as it was down 40 percent from last weekend's so-so start. This Is Where I Leave You has grossed $22.44 million in ten days. That places the film 13.5 percent behind the $25.94 million ten-day start of 2011's The Change-Up (which fell 53 percent in its second weekend to gross $6.31 million).

Fellow Warner Bros. release Dolphin Tale 2 rounded out the weekend's top five with $4.79 million. The family film sequel was down 46 percent from last weekend, as the film appears to have taken a bit of a hit from The Boxtrolls arriving in the marketplace. Dolphin Tale 2 has grossed $33.62 million in 17 days. The film is currently running 31 percent behind the $49.04 million 17-day take of 2011's Dolphin Tale and is displaying significantly softer holding power.

No Good Deed followed in sixth with $4.51 million. Sony's low-budget thriller starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson was down 54 percent. No Good Deed continues to be very front-loaded, but has still grossed a healthy $46.53 million in 17 days.

Universal's A Walk Among the Tombstones was down five spots and a massive 67 percent from last weekend with a seventh place take of $4.19 million. Lackluster word of mouth and the new direct competition from The Equalizer both had a clear negative effect on the Liam Neeson led action thriller this weekend. A Walk Among the Tombstones is now running below expectations with a ten-day start of $20.83 million.

Guardians of the Galaxy was down just 28 percent to place in eighth with $3.77 million. In the process, the blockbuster sci-fi superhero film from Disney and Marvel surpassed the $318.41 million final unadjusted gross of 2008's Iron Man. Guardians of the Galaxy has grossed a massive $319.17 million through 59 days of release.

Daily Domestic Gross Tue, Dec. 10 2013

Wide (1000+)

#TitleTue, Dec. 10 2013LocationsAvg.TotalWks.Dist.
1Frozen (2013)$2,463,61920%3,7420$658$138,768,4373Disney
2The Hunger Games: Catching Fire$2,372,67522%4,1630$570$340,167,1593Lionsgate
3Out of the Furnace$588,58718%2,101--$280$6,336,7711Relativity Media
4Thor: The Dark World$509,96628%3,074-212$166$194,618,6315Disney
5Homefront$463,42135%2,5700$180$16,135,4952Open Road
6Delivery Man$416,47830%2,905-131$143$25,503,4653Disney / DreamWorks
7The Book Thief$359,52833%1,31682$273$12,631,3475Fox
8The Best Man Holiday$220,7808%1,577-140$140$67,601,2954Universal
9Last Vegas$170,41733%1,539-315$111$60,885,4246CBS Films
1012 Years a Slave$165,20327%1,082-83$153$35,314,6568Fox Searchlight
11Black Nativity$99,00721%1,5259$65$6,585,7772Fox Searchlight
12Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa$77,2848%1,157-346$67$100,169,6217Paramount
13Lee Daniels' The Butler$41,73824%1,007936$41$115,997,52517Weinstein Company
14Free Birds$28,0508%1,202-1085$23$53,843,3966Relativity Media

Limited (100 — 999)

#TitleTue, Dec. 10 2013LocationsAvg.TotalWks.Dist.
1Philomena$300,32729%8350$360$8,701,9913Weinstein Company
2Dallas Buyers Club$189,53323%73438$258$12,797,0056Focus
3Gravity$159,33335%900-116$177$251,764,18410Warner Bros.
4Captain Phillips$62,11225%640-167$97$103,612,5539Sony / Columbia
5Nebraska$55,5568%11311$492$2,345,7404Paramount Vantage
6Ender's Game$52,69117%608-235$87$60,217,3166Lionsgate / Summit
7Oldboy (2013)$52,29917%5830$90$2,053,5462FilmDistrict
8About Time$29,26029%266-65$110$15,053,2486Universal
9Despicable Me 2$15,1209%252-19$60$367,186,93523Universal
10All Is Lost$14,7017%147-7$100$5,514,6098Roadside Attractions
11Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2$12,50523%312-395$40$115,291,93811Sony / Columbia
12Don Jon$8,51917%12599$68$24,376,57611Relativity Media
13Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters$4,598-5%140-23$33$68,325,58218Fox
14Insidious Chapter 2$4,2915%122-18$35$83,537,77613FilmDistrict

Platform (1 — 99)

#TitleTue, Dec. 10 2013LocationsAvg.TotalWks.Dist.
1Inside Llewyn Davis$36,497-8%4--$9,124$481,5101CBS Films
2Enough Said$7,76417%94-27$83$17,307,23312Fox Searchlight
3Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom$5,615-15%40$1,404$193,3252Weinstein Company
4Escape Plan$5,36753%81-60$66$24,619,0308Lionsgate / Summit
5The Family (2013)$4,25236%96-34$44$36,866,36013Relativity Media
6The Counselor$3,63441%71-7$51$16,900,3447Fox
7Instructions Not Included$2,8865%46-22$63$44,462,14815Lionsgate / Pantelion
8Linsanity$1,872--1-2$1,872$295,15910Ketchup Entertainment
9Twice Born$77710%10--$78$16,4301eOne Films US
10Gori Tere Pyaar Mein$29380%6-50$49$341,8603Reliance Entertainment