Denzel Washington drove “The Equalizer” to a killer Thursday night debut, with the gritty thriller picking up $1.5 million at the box office.

Produced by Sony Pictures and Village Roadshow for $55 million, the film is expected to reign over the multiplexes this weekend and debut to $30 million. On Thursday, the update of the CBS television series screened at 2,693 locations. It expands to 3,234 locations this weekend.

The Thursday numbers are in line with Washington’s most recent action film, “2 Guns,” which bowed to $1.28 million in late night screenings en route to a $27.1 million debut. “The Equalizer” put up bigger numbers than last weekend’s champ “The Maze Runner” did in its late night screenings. That film enjoyed a $1.1 million Thursday and premiered to $32.5 million.

“The Equalizer” pits a former special ops agent (Washington) who has renounced his violent past against a nasty bunch of Russian mobsters. It also reunites Washington with his “Training Day” director Antoine Fuqua.

The weekend’s other new wide release, “The BoxTrolls” is geared at a children and families.