‘The Equalizer’ Is Another Hit For Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington has himself another hit, and perhaps a profitable franchise.

Entertainment Weekly is reporting that two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington, one of the biggest movie stars of the past 25 years, and almost always, the coolest guy in the room, delivered his 12th no. 1 film, The Equalizer.

Directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), The Equalizer is a Neeson-ized adaptation of the 1980s CBS detective drama series that starred Edward Woodward.

Washington plays Robert McCall, a former spy/assassin with a sentimental soul who puts his deadly skills back in action when the Russian mob steps on the neck of some of his poor Boston friends. The Equalizer is a Bourne film for your parents’ generation, a taut but straight-ahead thriller where the old guy not only dispatches Russian gangsters with a creative assortment of Home Depot style tools, but offers life-lessons to a younger generation that hangs on his every word of wisdom.

The Equalizer grossed more than $34 million in its opening weekend, Washington’s third biggest debut ever, and a sequel is already on the drawing board.

Washington and Fuqua are rumored to be collaborating again on a remake of Yul Brenner’s The Magnificent Seven. Maybe it will be great. And Washington is planning to direct himself and Viola Davis in a big-screen adaptation of August Wilson’s Fences, the Broadway play that won both of them Tony Awards.

Daily Finance is reporting that just may be the case. With the success of The Equalizer, Sony films finally scored a hit, so there’s no doubt they would love to capitalize on franchise funds. Besides, Washington has never participated in a franchise before, and if he parlayed it correctly, Washington could use this to help him get pet projects made.

Sony Pictures, as other studios, has become increasingly dependent on TV and TV adaptations. In June, it was 22 Jump Street. Last weekend, The Equalizer. Both have done well.

Sony isn’t alone, of course. Viacom’s Paramount Pictures has earned hundreds of millions from new adaptations of Star Trek and Mission: Impossible.

By contrast, Disney and Time Warner haven’t done as much with TV adaptations because they don’t have to. Each studio has plenty of in-house franchise fodder from Marvel and DC Comics.

Sony doesn’t have the same luxury. Lackluster box office performance in recent years — including sharp declines in grosses for the various Spider-Man adaptations — has put pressure on executives to find new franchises, fast. TV is as convenient a source as any.

[Image courtesy of High Snobiety]