Box office: ‘The Equalizer 3’ wins Labor Day with ease, ‘Barbie’ crosses $600 million domestically

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Although the Labor Day weekend is often seen as the last blast for the summer, studios have often been nervous about releasing their bigger movies over the four-day holiday. This Labor Day, Denzel Washington proved that his movies can be released at any time and find success. Read on for the weekend box office report.

It has been over five years since Washington appeared as Robert McCall in “The Equalizer 2,” also directed by Antoine Fuqua, but it’s been almost 20 years since he starred with young Dakota Fanning in 2004’s “Man on Fire.” Sony’s “The Equalizer 3” brought them all back together, as it was released into 3,965 theaters on Friday after making $3.8 million in Thursday previews.

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Washington’s threequel, the actor’s first, made $13.1 million on Friday (including previews), and Sony has it making $34.6 million over the three-day weekend with a projected $42.3 million including Monday. “The Equalizer 3” received the best reviews of the franchise with 75% on Rotten Tomatoes and audiences were just as thrilled, giving it an “A” CinemaScore, similar to 2018’s “The Equalizer 2,” which opened with $36 million in mid-summer 2018. Although “The Equalizer 3” may have opened slightly lower, it’s actually the second-biggest Labor Day opening after Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” in 2021.

This weekend, Greta Gerwig‘s “Barbie” crossed the $600 million domestically, and it also passed Disney’s “Incredibles 2” to become the 13th-highest grossing blockbuster domestically. It remained in second place with $10.2 million over the three-day weekend and an estimated $13.1 million including Monday, down 13% from last weekend. Overseas, “Barbie” has passed “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” to become the highest-grossing global blockbuster of 2023 with $1.38 billion through Sunday after adding another $13.2 million overseas for an international total of $771.5 million.

Warner Bros’ latest DC superhero movie, “Blue Beetle,” retained third place with $7.1 million over the three-day weekend and $9.2 million including Monday, the four-day being down 24% from last weekend with $58.5 million grossed domestically.

Sony’s Playstation-inspired racing drama, “Gran Turismo,” took fourth place with $6.6 million over the three-day weekend and an estimated $8.6 million including Monday, with its North American total at $30.7 million.

Christopher Nolan‘s “Oppenheimer” remained in the Top 5 with $5.7 million to take fifth place with $7.5 million over the four-day weekend, down just 9% from the previous weekend. “Oppenheimer” has grossed $310.5 million in North America, while crossing the $850 million mark worldwide, making it Nolan’s third-biggest global blockbuster. It was helped greatly by its opening week in China with $30.3 million, the second-biggest opening for a Nolan movie in the Middle Country, $10.2 million of that coming from IMAX screens. Internationally, “Oppenheimer” added $49.7 million this weekend.

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“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” crossed the $100 million last week, but it also fell out of the Top 5, taking sixth place with $4.7 million in 2,955 theaters with $6.1 million expected over the four-day holiday. It has grossed $107.8 million in North America since opening in early August.

Emma Seligman‘s raunchy comedy “Bottoms” expanded into 715 theaters on Friday, enough for it to make a move into the Top 10 with $3.1 in seventh place with a projected $3.7 million over the four-day holiday. MGM is expanding the comedy into 1,200 theaters on Friday, having grossed $4.4 million so far.

While many studios rereleased their summer hits for National Cinema Day, Disney decided to expand Pixar’s “Elemental” into 2,160 theaters for Labor Day weekend, where it added another $1.6 million over the four-day weekend to bring its domestic total to $153.4 million.

Vertical released “The Good Mother,” starring Hilary Swank, into 423 theaters, where it was able to bring in an estimated $302k over the weekend, averaging $704 per location.

Most players in the Gold Derby box office prediction game had “The Equalizer 3” winning the weekend with between $25 and 50 million, with “Barbie” taking second place. Only 21 had “Blue Beetle” taking third place with 32 picking “Gran Turismo” for fourth place, so there will be fewer 6 out of 6 predictions. (Note that the box office game only includes the three-day portion of the holiday weekend.)

“MellowDrama” won the Aug. 25 box office game with only slight competition for highest point-scorer from “napierslogs,” although “MellowDrama” clearly will win the summer season by quite a large margin.

On Friday, “The Nun II” takes on “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3” vs. the Telugu-language action movie, “Jawan,” so check back on Wednesday for the weekend preview of how they might do.

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