Washington Equalizer's draw

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There are few sure things in Hollywood, but Denzel Washington is certainly one of them.

Sony's The Equalizer, starring Washington as a retired mercenary pitted against ultra-violent Russian gangsters, was No. 1 at North American theatres over the weekend, taking in an estimated US$35 million (S$44 million). The Equalizer, which reteamed Washington with his Training Day director Antoine Fuqua, cost Sony and Village Roadshow roughly US$55 million to make.

Sony, which is counting on the film to make up ground from under-performing summer releases such as Sex Tape, boasted on Sunday of its "no-holds- barred marketing campaign" for the film and called the results "spectacular".

Washington, who won Academy Awards for his roles in Training Day (2001) and Glory (1989), is one of the most consistent box-office draws in Hollywood. His films have produced more than US$2 billion in receipts domestically since 1990, according to tracking firm Rentrak Corp. The 2007 release American Gangster is his top picture based on United States sales, with US$130.2 million, Rentrak said.

"Denzel Washington has earned a bundle because he's reliable, and this week shows it," said Mr Phil Contrino, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. "You can't put a price on the trust that he's earned. The public respects him as an actor, that he'll always show up and that they will get their money's worth."

The original TV series of The Equalizer ran for four seasons in the 1980s, according to Imdb.com.

The other new release of the week, The Boxtrolls, placed third with US$17.3 million in sales for Universal Pictures' Focus Features. The animated picture, about oddball creatures that raise a human named Egg, had been predicted by BoxOffice.com to generate US$14 million in weekend ticket sales. Second place for the weekend went to The Maze Runner (20th Century Fox), which sold an estimated US$17.5 million in tickets.

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