Nolte: Denzel’s ‘Equalizer 3’ Explodes the Labor Day Box Office

Director Antoine Fuqua’s The Equalizer 3 is making chumps of box office projections with a Labor Day weekend haul that could go as high as $44 million by Tuesday morning. Over the normal Friday to Sunday box office, the mighty Denzel Washington is barreling towards a possible $37 million.

Most assumed Equalizer 3 would land at around $30 million.

If those numbers hold, part three will top the original Equalizer’s (2014) $34 million opening and part two’s $36 million. That would be quite an achievement but not surprising.

Denzel Washington is one of the only remaining movie stars out there, and by “movie star,” I don’t mean someone who stars in movies. A true movie star opens movies. A true movie star earns the public’s trust — we trust him to choose great projects. A true movie star doesn’t insult the customers on Twitter. A true movie star doesn’t wear us out with his constant presence. A true movie star captures and holds public goodwill and affection.

Who doesn’t love Denzel Washington? The only thing I don’t love about Denzel are my brief moments of gay panic. Same with Brad Pitt.

And finally, in this era of the Woke Nazis, we also have faith that Washington understands woketardery is death to art, public goodwill, and anything approaching entertainment.

No, The Equalizer franchise is not making superhero money, but it doesn’t need to. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Lock Kathleen Kennedy Out of the Building will undoubtedly gross more than Equalizer 3, probably twice as much ($400 million) worldwide, but Indiana Jones and the Dial of This Is What Affirmative Action Gets You cost $430 million to make. The Equalizer 3 cost less than a quarter of that. After theatrical, pay-per-view, home video, streaming, cable, and broadcast, Equalizer 3 will make a fortune as Dial of Disney Grooms loses a fortune.

Most importantly — and this is not a small point — the Golden Goose lives. The real money, the long money, is in a thriving, healthy, and popular franchise. Until Hollywood went woke, the industry was buried in sure things, a countless number of franchises that printed money. But now, thanks to this lunatic obsession with sexual deviancy, gender politics, identity politics, the preening need to scold the customers, and an overall smuggery, those golden geese are almost all dead. Ten years ago, Star Wars was the greatest brand in movie history. Today, it’s a bad TV show. Five years ago, Marvel ended the most triumphant run in movie history. Now it’s floundering. I could go on and on…

It’s gotten to a point where these once-cherished brands are so insulting and poorly made that watching them fail is a lot more fun than the movies themselves.

The Equalizer franchise isn’t interested in reinventing the wheel, and that’s why we love it. We have a great star with charisma to burn. A great character for that star to portray. A fascinating concept. Simple stories executed with style and excitement. Cathartic action sequences. Only a fool would ask for more. Only idiots would retool that into something important and timely. That doesn’t mean The Equalizer franchise is shallow, far from it. This is a franchise with a lot to say. But what it says, it says using universal themes, not partisan rhetoric.

When he’s not bone-snapping and nail-gunning, Denzel’s Robert McCall tries to help people, especially young people, become better. He does not tolerate excuses because he knows everyone has it in them to improve. That’s a humble and universal ideal we can all rally around.

Over the past couple of days, the wife and I rewatched the first two Equalizers. This was probably our third or fourth go-around, and we just sat there with smiles on our faces. Fuqua and Denzel cast a spell and hold it. That’s what movies are supposed to do. That’s why woke is anti-art. Woke breaks the spell, intrudes, and the suspension of disbelief crashes to the ground. This is why I think Equalizer 3 is over-performing. People miss that escape. This is likely why Top Gun: Maverick and the John Wick franchise surprised us.

I know people will say, Well, Barbie is woke, and it’s making billions. But from what I can glean from the reaction, Barbie offers something else people miss at the movies: genuine laughs.

To answer some commenters: My wife appears to be one more surgery away from recovering her mobility. Hopefully, sometime next year, I’ll be able to leave her alone long enough to start reviewing movies again.

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.


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