• Industry

World Box Office September 22-28

Some leading stars have been fading away recently, so rapidly and so dramatically that many people in the movie industry are openly questioning if the star system model still holds and makes sense.  We’ll refrain from naming names here to protect the innocent, but on the other hand there are still those consistently prove that their mere presence pulls people into theaters, year after year. They are the last movie stars.
Denzel Washington keeps demonstrating, over and over, that he indeed belongs to this category. Teaming up again with Antoine Fuqua, with whom he got an Academy Award thanks to Training Day, Washington had the third largest opening of his  career with The Equalizer, after American Gangster and Safe House: It took in $35 million at the North American box, with an extra $18 million coming from the international markets. Worldwide the winner turned out to be the surprising The Maze Runner, that  generated an extra $27 million  from 62 countries  for a total of $149 million. 
 The Equalizer is a big screen version of the 1980s TV show of the same title where we meet Washington as an ex-Special Forces operative forced out of retirement to save Chloe Grace Moretz from the hands of Russian gangsters. Benefiting from a new single by Eminem titled Guts Over Fear, it split evenly between men and women and across all demographics, with 65% of its viewers over the age of 30. In other words, give them Denzel, or better yet an angry Denzel, and the crowds will come. “He’s one of the few actors on the planet that really appeals to everyone”, says Rory Bruer, Sony’s president of worldwide distribution. On its first outing the numbers were higher than what the studio expected and validates the decision to order a sequel, which would be a first for Denzel. There will be a sequel also for The Maze Runner,  which added $17.5 million  to the North American market, edging by just a few thousand dollars The Boxtrolls,   the new stop motion animated feature by Portland based Laika. At number four is Shawn Levy’s comedy This Is Where I Leave You on its second outing, generating $7 million for a total of about $22 million. Following at the number five spot is Dolphin Tale 2, so far at $33 million. And Denzel definitely beat Liam. Neeson’s A Walk Among the Tombstones fell 67% in its second weekend, with a domestic total of barely $21 million. No talk of sequels, here.
 Back to the international markets, The Maze Runner did very well in Asia. In South Korea it delivered $5 million, for a total of $12.2 in two weeks and already surpassing Guardians of the Galaxy. In Malaysia the take was $5 million, in Australia Maze Runner so far managed a total of $8 million. Even if they once again played the bad guys, Russians preferred The Equalizer, which ended the weekend at the top with $2.7 million. Denzel Washington also ruled in the UK (almost $3 million) and  in Mexico and Brazil. There was also worldwide appreciation for The Boxtrolls, which added $5 million in 16 markets and which stands now at a foreign total of $18 million. A mention also for Dearest, an epic thriller directed by Peter Ho-Sun Chan that made $13,5 million in just its country of origin, China.
Finally, two holdovers are about to cross significant milestones. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is about to go over the mark of  $700 million worldwide, with $500 million coming from overseas and over $100 million from China alone. After two months in theaters, Lucy keeps attracting viewers and money. The Scarlett Johansson action film had its debut in Italy, where it did over $3 million in business. And it finished the weekend just a few million shy of a global cumulative of $400 million.
Next week, we will witness Nick Cage leading a remake of Left Behind. And we’ll test if David Fincher’s take of literary sensation Gone Girl, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, will be as appealing to viewers as it has been to critics, who have given the film stellar reviews.

Lorenzo Soria