On the final weekend of the summer box office season, Sony Pictures/Escape Artist’s “The Equalizer 3″ has taken the top spot on the charts with a solid opening of $35 million from 3,985 theaters over the three-day weekend, with a $42 million four-day opening when Monday estimates are included.
That result would be the second largest ever on Labor Day weekend, standing only behind the $94.6 million opening of Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” in 2021. “Equalizer 3” sports a $70 million budget co-financed by TSG Entertainment and Eagle Pictures, and with strong audience metrics including an A on CinemaScore should be on its way to matching the $102 million domestic run of “The Equalizer 2” in 2018.
Meanwhile, Warner Bros.’ “Barbie” became the 14th film in box office history to pass $600 million in domestic grosses, adding $13 million over the four-day weekend to bring its total to $612 million in North America. With $1.38 billion worldwide, “Barbie” has also passed “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” to become the year’s highest-grossing film, and is likely to hold on to that title for the remainder of 2023.
“Barbie” now stands 13th on the all-time domestic charts before inflation adjustment, passing the $608 million run of Disney/Pixar’s “Incredibles 2.” In the coming week, it will pass the unadjusted totals of Marvel’s “The Avengers” and Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” to reach No. 11 on the all-time charts.
Universal’s “Oppenheimer” is also continuing its strong run with a release in China this past Wednesday, earning an estimated $30.3 million over five days to take the No. 1 spot in that country. In a market that no longer sees heavy turnout for American films, “Oppenheimer” has the third largest Chinese opening for a Hollywood film this year behind only “Fast X” and “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts.”
With that opening, “Oppenheimer” has now passed $850 million worldwide, and in doing so has passed “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” to become the third highest-grossing film of 2023 behind only “Barbie” and “Mario.” It is also the highest-grossing film ever in North America to never reach No. 1 on the charts.
Elsewhere on the charts, Warner Bros./DC’s “Blue Beetle” continues its tepid run with an estimated $8.6 million grossed over four days this weekend, bringing its total to just $57 million domestic and $86 million worldwide as it still has yet to even match its $104 million budget before marketing.
Sony’s “Gran Turismo” is also showing soft numbers with $8.4 million grossed in its second weekend for a running domestic total of $30.6 million against a $60 million budget.
Outside the top 5, Paramount’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” has crossed the $100 million domestic mark with $6.3 million over the 4-day weekend, giving it a running North American total of $108 million.
Finally, MGM/Orion’s R-rated teen comedy “Bottoms” expanded to 705 theaters nationwide this weekend and earned an estimated $3.6 million four-day opening, bringing its total to $4.3 million as it is set to expand again next weekend to around 1,200 theaters. Sporting an $11 million budget and strong word-of-mouth among younger moviegoers — 80% of the film’s audience is 18-35 — “Bottoms” is hoping to leg out through September as a quiet indie offering.
Overall, Labor Day weekend totals are set to hit $113 million, 57% above last year’s anemic $72.6 million overall total and just 6% behind the $121.5 million total seen on this holiday weekend in 2019. The final total for the summer season, which lasts from the first weekend of May through Labor Day, will pass $4 billion for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic.