Denzel Washington brought his might to the box office yet again with his latest action film, "The Equalizer."
The R-rated movie, based on the gritty 1985-89 CBS series starring Edward Woodward, topped all other films with an estimated weekend gross of $35 million in the U.S. and Canada.
Produced by Sony Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures, the film cost about $55 million to make. The studios had predicted a modest $25 million to $30 million opening.
"From the first minute we saw footage of this film, we knew we had something that was special," said Rory Bruer, distribution president for Sony Pictures. "It's been a really great weekend."
The Washington box-office results shouldn't come as a surprise: Washington's last 10 wide releases, including "Flight" (2013) and "Deja Vu" (2006), have each opened to more than $20 million.
"The Equalizer" is the latest collaboration between Washington and director Antoine Fuqua, who worked together on the hit "Training Day." That 2001 film, which won Washington an Oscar, topped the box office and grossed $22.5 million in its opening weekend. It went on to take in a total of $76.3 million in the U.S. and Canada and more than $100 million internationally.
The gender breakdown for "The Equalizer" was fairly balanced, with male moviegoers making up 52% of the audience. About 65% of audiences were older than 30.
"I think [Washington] is one of those rare actors that really appeals to everyone," Bruer said. "He and Fuqua also work beautifully off each other and bring stories to a new level."
The movie received a grade of A-minus from audience polling form Cinemascore and earned generally positive reviews from critics. Bruer said he wouldn't be surprised if the film got a sequel.
In its sophomore weekend, 20th Century Fox's "The Maze Runner" took second place, adding $17.5 million to its domestic gross. The film, which finished first in its opening weekend, has earned $58 million to date.
The film follows Thomas (Dylan O'Brien), who is deposited into a community of young men in a postapocalyptic world. After learning that they are trapped in a maze, he joins fellow "runners" to try to escape.
The film, directed by Wes Ball, cost about $34 million to make. It earned generally positive reviews from critics and received a grade of A-minus from audience polling firm CinemaScore. Based on the bestselling young-adult novel by James Dashner, the film has been especially popular among people under the age of 25.
Focus Features' stop-motion animated film "The Boxtrolls" exceeded studio estimates and came in third with about $17.3 million. It was the strongest debut for Laika, the production company behind Academy Award-nominated films "Coraline" and "Paranorman."
"Denzel Washington is one of the most bankable guys in the industry but 'The Equalizer' is a R-rated title for adults. ... There was plenty of room for us to do very well with a broad, charming family film," said Jim Orr, president of distribution for Focus. "I think they existed very nicely together."
The film follows a family of quirky creatures who have raised a human boy named Eggs.
As expected, it resonated most with families with children under 18. Female moviegoers made up about 57% of the audience.
The movie received a grade of B-plus from Cinemascore. As of Sunday, it had notched a 71% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
"We have great hopes for it," Orr said.
Comedy-drama "This Is Where I Leave You" was fourth, adding $7 million in its second weekend. Its box-office total to date is about $22.6 million.
"Dolphin Tale 2" rounded out the top five, adding $4.8 million, bringing its three-weekend gross to $33.7 million.
The Liam Neeson thriller "A Walk Among the Tombstones" dropped a whopping 67% in its second weekend, falling to No. 7. The film grossed $4.2 million, making its gross to date $20.9 million.
Also remaining in the top 10 were Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy" and Paramount's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."
At No. 8, "Guardians of the Galaxy" added $3.8 million. With a cumulative domestic gross of $319.2 million, the film has exceeded the total domestic grosses of "Iron Man" ($318.4 million), "Iron Man 2" ($312.4 million), "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" ($259.8 million) and other blockbuster titles.
"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" nabbed the 10th spot, adding about $1.5 million to its total gross. The film has collected $187.2 million to date.
In limited release, CBS Films' "Pride" saw a solid opening of $84,791 in six locations. The gay and labor rights drama received an A grade from Cinemascore. As of Sunday, it had notched a 93% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.