Sony Pictures is hoping to get a jump on the presumed-hype for director Antoine Fuqua’s upcoming thriller The Equalizer, starring Denzel Washington, by getting the ball rolling on the sequel well in advance. The first pic doesn’t open in theaters until September, but it apparently scored through the roof during a recent test screening, bringing back the highest scores for an R-rated film in Sony’s history. As a result, the studio is keen on developing the follow-up in the hopes that the film makes waves when it hits theaters this fall. Hit the jump for more.
The Wrap reports that Sony has brought back screenwriter Richard Wenk to pen a sequel to The Equalizer with the expectation that the first pic will be a box office success when it opens in September. The film is an adaptation of the 1980s TV show of the same name and stars Denzel Washington as a retired intelligence officer who gets embroiled with the Russian mob after displaying an act of kindness towards a young prostitute (Chloe Grace Moretz). You’ll remember that the pic went through a prolonged development period as a revolving door of directors signed on and then left the project, including Nicolas Winding Refn and Rupert Wyatt, before Fuqua made the commitment for good.
Washington is expected to return for the sequel—his first ever—though no deal is in place just yet, and there’s no word on whether Fuqua will return. Getting a jump on sequels before the first film hits theaters has become the new norm, but it’s usually reserved for tentpole or big-budget properties like The Hunger Games, The Amazing Spider-Man, and, most recently, Divergent; an R-rated thriller franchise is certainly an anomaly. The Equalizer also stars Melissa Leo, Bill Pullman, Haley Bennett, and Marton Cskokas and opens in theaters on September 26th.