Being able to shoot in Rome's Cinecittà Studios and come face to face with film history by going where Federico Fellini and so many other greats had gone before him was the stuff of Antoine Fuqua's filmmaking dreams.
For years, director Antoine Fuqua has fantasized about touring the world with The Equalizer. Denzel Washington played the reluctant assassin Robert McCall in the action franchise, which was loosely based on a 1980s television series. The franchise has its roots in Boston and has modest domestic beginnings. But after two movies and $382.7 million in box office revenue over the last ten years, the opportunity to travel seemed right.
According to Fuqua, "Denzel is an international movie star," he said to The Associated Press. "We believed it would be nice to see a man of color in a more global story. Why not travel the world with this character? Fortunately, Sony embraced the concept.
And only one country—Italy—was ever given serious consideration for inclusion. Fuqua claimed that he has taken his children to Washington every summer since they were young. He adores the people, the food, and the culture. He even knows a little Italian. Fuqua said, "He just feels right there."
And for Fuqua, getting to shoot in Rome's Cinecittà Studios and coming face to face with movie history by going where Fellini and so many other greats had gone before him was the stuff of moviemaking dreams. They discovered a genuine 1970s New York grittyness in Naples, which required little to no production design for a crucial showdown. They also discovered the tiny village of theirs and McCall's dreams in the charming Atrani on the Amalfi coast.
It's the kind of place you'd think someone like McCall (or really anyone) would feel instantly connected to and protective of, and that's exactly what happens in Equalizer 3, which makes its Indian theater debut on Friday. The distinction is that McCall is better suited than other people to take on the Camorra. Naturally by yourself.
When we arrived in that small town, Fuqua said, "We knew that was the place." "We were sitting around and they would just bring us coffee and espresso. The people were so lovely. We didn't even make the request. Or because it was so hot, huge, gigantic lemons. In a place like that, you fall in love with the locals.
The steps were the only issue, which isn't even really a complaint. One of Atrani's gems is a medieval church that is perched on a mountainside above the beach and that they decided would be ideal for a crucial scene involving McCall and Dakota Fanning's character, the CIA analyst. However, there are over 700 steps to climb in order to get there. Although the trip with all the gear needed to shoot a scene wasn't enjoyable, it served as a good reminder of the film's goals for director Fuqua and his cinematographer, three-time Oscar winner Robert Richardson. Instead of a vacation spot, they wanted to depict a real location.
"It's not a travelogue," Fuqua insisted. "The Mediterranean is beautiful, but for those who live there, it's just everyday life. The fish the fishermen catch is what they eat. They reside in modest homes. They ascend those stairs every day by foot.
The movie assembles a core group of seasoned professionals, including producers Todd Black and Jason Blumenthal. In addition to the Equalizer movies, Fuqua also helmed the recent remake of The Magnificent Seven and Training Day, which would earn Washington his first lead actor Oscar.
And in addition to a number of other movies, Black also produced every movie that Washington directed. The first Equalizer was introduced by Washington, and everyone thought there would only be one movie in the series.
"When creating a movie, you can't consider awards or franchises. You're probably doomed from the start if your goal when producing a film is to win an award, or even just to be nominated, or to start a franchise, according to Black. "Not always, but you shouldn't think that way," she said.
Instead, they approached it script by script and "let the audience decide." It appeared that the audience enjoyed seeing Washington repeatedly in the role of McCall. Sony was interested in a third movie after the first two grossed over $190 million each on under $65 million in production costs. Additionally, the friendship between Black and Fuqua and the priceless trust that comes with it was beneficial. Both actors are aware that everything will be safe and under control on their movies, whether that means managing a surprise fan situation for their star or making sure it's not too risky to film in Naples at night.
Because we are so watchful, we've never had an incident at our theaters, according to Black. And Antoine really looks out for the actors.
Now Black and Fuqua are in the unusual position of having to promote Equalizer 3 on their own, taking over for their movie stars who, along with Hollywood writers, are currently engaged in a protracted strike. But while some movies that were released over the past month that didn't benefit from a star's late-night stories and red carpet appearances struggled at the box office, Black is confident in Equalizer 3.
Denzel Washington is the "Equalizer," but I have other movies coming out that definitely need my actors to promote them, Black said. "Thanks to Antoine for creating a beautiful movie that works and that audiences have so far embraced, we're very, very confident. We're in excellent condition.
Both primarily miss being accompanied by Washington during the press tour. Black claimed that the 68-year-old celebrity is much "mellower" now than he was in the past and is enjoyable to work with in the media. Fuqua added that McCall in Equalizer 3 might even reflect Washington's current situation in his own life to some extent. Both are a little bit more subdued and tolerant. Fuqua said, "He'll call me and Todd at 4 in the morning to see the sunrise. "Before, that wasn't Denzel. It's good to see him pause and take in the moment.