Sony/Columbia Pictures have spent years attempting to get a cinematic version of The Equalizer off the ground. The original television series ran from 1985-89, and starred the late Edward Woodward – in a Golden Globe-winning role – as Robert McCall, a g-man turned private detective, who spent his days helping out the weak and under-priviledged in an effort to make up for past dark deeds.

The film version – a loose adaptation of that premise – lay dormant until last year, following the departure of star Russell Crowe and director Paul Haggis (who had previously collaborated on The Next Three Days). Progress re-started once Denzel Washington came aboard to headline, based on a script draft written by Richard Wenk (The Mechanic). Sony intended to fast-track the project, but things failed to roll along as smoothly as the studio wanted – with both Nicholas Winding Refn (Drive) and Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) passing on the director job, before Antoine Fuqua (Olympus Has Fallen) accepted the position.

That means Sony has been forced to abandon the April 11th, 2014 release date it originally had in mind, so as to allot the necessary amount of time for filming. The Equalizer features a supporting cast that includes Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass 2), Marton Csokas (Noah) and Melissa Leo (Wayward Pines), and is now slated to reach theaters on September 26th, 2014.

Chloë Grace Moretz as Hit-Girl in ‘Kick-Ass 2′

Washington’s next starring vehicle – expected to be an R-Rated dramatic thriller along the lines of the actor’s previous collaboration with Fuqua on Training Day (which snagged Washington an Oscar) – shall now serve as counter-programming, to Laika’s quirky family-friendly stop-motion feature The Boxtrolls and the surreal sci-fi film Selfless from director Tarsem Singh (Immortals, Mirror Mirror), during its opening weekend.

The Equalizer is budgeted at $50 million (which includes Washington’s $20 million salary), with studio executives hoping that the film performs well enough at the box office to serve as the foundation for Washington’s first-ever franchise. All things considered, such an achievement shouldn’t be too difficult to manage, given that Washington’s last four movies have grossed somewhere between $80 million and $130 million in the U.S. (before factoring in the international market).

Washington’s next appearance on the big screen will be opposite Mark Wahlberg in 2 Guns, opening in theaters on August 2nd, 2013.

The Equalizer will reach theaters on September 26th, 2014.

Source: Sony/Columbia Pictures