BOX OFFICE

Not too many actors, even straight-up stars, can be relied upon to create big opening weekends, especially if they're not doing lots of CGI derring-do.

Denzel Washington is the rare thespian who pretty ensures a solid debut, even though the majority of his films are R-rated. 

His latest, The Equalizer, is especially R-rated and hard-as-nails, but his reunion with Training Day director opened huge in North America this weekend.

The Equalizer sits atop the box office heap, having debuted in 3,236 theaters and earned a whopping $35.0 million, according to current estimates.

Many adaptations of bestselling young adult novel series have tried to launch movie franchises.  A few have succeeded.  Most have gone nowhere.  For every Hunger Games, there are two or three misfires like Beautiful Creatures or Vampire Academy.

The Maze Runner has avoided the fate of, say, The Mortal Instruments, opening to the tune of $32.5 million this weekend.

That easily put The Maze Runner at the number one spot on the domestic box office charts, more than doubling the take of the second place finisher, A Walk Among the Tombstones.

Home invasion proved more popular than a heartwarming animal story at the box office.

No Good Deed debuted in first place this weekend by a considerable margin, outpacing fellow new release Dolphin Tale 2.

Elsewhere in the top ten, a crime drama opened in limited release while Marvel's latest blockbuster continued busting blocks, crossing a big box office milestone.

Guardians of the Galaxy became the first Marvel Studios movie to spend four weekends atop the box office at number one, albeit non-consecutively.

Still, that's not the big story this weekend.

The big story is, in fact, how little story there is this weekend.  This was the slowest weekend in two years, with the top twelve grossing a combined $51.9 million. Not coincidentally, the quietest weekend of the last decade was also September 5th through 7th back in 2008, when the top twelve amounted to $50.3 million.

Summer is coming to a close, and Guardians of the Galaxy is going out on top.

The oddball space adventure from Marvel Studios has now been anointed the biggest box office earner of 2014 so far, coming in at number one over the Labor Day weekend, which marks the unofficial close of the summer movie season.

Audiences opted against a return trip to Basin City this weekend.  Sin City: A Dame to Kill For had a shambling debut at number eight, earning less than $10 million and ensuring that Sin City 3 is supremely unlikely to happen.

One movie's calamity is another movie's boon, however.  After two consecutive weekends in second place, Guardians of the Galaxy hopped back atop the domestic box office chart.

A trio of new wide releases joined the box office fray this weekend, but not a one was a match for holdover champs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Guardians of the Galaxy.

More than twenty years after their last live action adventure, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back.

In fact, their dominance of the domestic box office suggests that the heroes in a half shell never really went away.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles opened in 3,845 theaters in North America and topped expectations for the weekend by earning a whopping $65.0 million, according to current estimates.

We were all Groot this weekend.

Guardians of the Galaxy proved the potency of the Marvel Studios brand, launching a new franchise and setting the record for the biggest August opening in box office history.

Alternate headline: A James Gunn movie is the number one film in America, earning an estimated $94.0 million from 4,080 theaters in the U.S. and Canada.

Scarlett Johansson wrestled the title of "The People's Champion" from Dwayne Johnson.

The petite star proved a more bankable ass-kicker than the erstwhile The Rock, with Lucy easily outpacing Hercules as the number one movie in America this weekend.

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