Sony’s The Equalizer 3, directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Denzel Washington, is making a significant impact at the box office, helping to push domestic summer box office revenue to $4 billion for the first time in the post-pandemic era. This achievement comes as a much-needed boost for Hollywood studios and theater owners.
As of Friday, it appeared that the industry had achieved the milestone, although final numbers were still being tallied. According to Comscore, reaching $4 billion represents a 16.3 percent increase over the revenue generated in summer 2022, which was $3.43 billion. Additionally, the deficit from summer 2019, when revenue hit $4.34 billion, has decreased from 15 percent before Barbenheimer to 7.8 percent. The final number for the 2023 summer box office will be released once Labor Day wraps up.
Comscore analyst Paul Dergarabedian describes the industry’s achievement as a remarkable one, given the unexpected and often confounding path that led to this milestone. From the success of films like Barbenheimer and Sound of Freedom to the surprising underperformance of some highly anticipated movies, the unpredictable nature of the 18-week summer season was on full display. The success of The Equalizer 3 is the perfect high note to end the summer on.
By the end of business on August 31, the domestic revenue was just $26.9 million short of $4 billion. Fortunately, The Equalizer 3 exceeded expectations at the Labor Day holiday box office, grossing $13.1 million on Friday. It is projected to have a four-day opening of $42 million to $43.5 million.
The third installment of The Equalizer series is expected to surpass the opening weekends of the previous movies, which debuted over traditional three-day weekends. The first movie opened to $34.1 million, followed by $36 million for the sequel. The threequel’s estimated three-day take is around $35 million.
Audiences have responded positively to The Equalizer 3, giving it an A CinemaScore. The film has attracted a diverse audience, with white viewers comprising 33 percent of Friday ticket buyers, followed by black viewers (31 percent), Latino viewers (20 percent), and Asian/other viewers (15 percent).
Meanwhile, Greta Gerwig’s Barbie is holding steady at No. 2 in its seventh weekend, projected to gross over $13 million domestically in its four-day run. The Warner Bros. film achieved a significant milestone on Thursday by surpassing $600 million at the domestic box office and becoming the top-grossing movie of 2023 to date, surpassing The Super Mario Bros. Movie, which grossed $1.359 billion worldwide. Barbie’s overseas gross has exceeded $750 million.
In the top five, DC’s Blue Beetle is expected to come in at No. 3 at the Labor Day box office, followed by Sony’s Gran Turismo: Based on A True Story and Universal’s summer blockbuster Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer has also been making headlines, as it is set to cross the $850 million mark at the global box office, making it Christopher Nolan’s third-biggest film ever. In North America, it is expected to gross $7 million or more over the four-day holiday frame.
With the summer box office reaching $4 billion, the industry can celebrate a significant achievement in its recovery from the pandemic-induced shutdowns. As the numbers continue to be finalized, it will be interesting to see how this success carries over into the rest of the year and whether the momentum can be sustained in the coming months.
Overall, the summer of 2023 has proven to be a turning point for the box office, showing that audiences are eager to return to theaters and enjoy the big-screen experience once again. It is a testament to the resilience of the film industry and a promising sign for the future of cinema.