By Brian M. Raftery
Updated October 19, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

Maybe they should have called it Pay Day. Though its lead is neither traditional action hero nor comedy star, Denzel Washington’s cop drama ”Training Day” set a career opening-weekend record for the 46-year-old actor, taking in an arresting $22.6 million. The hefty sum could raise Washington’s asking price, a reported $10 million plus. But will he join Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks in the $20 million club, whose only other black member is Will Smith? ”Both ”Training Day” and ”Remember the Titans” have opened strongly in so-called nonholiday periods,” says Oren Koules, a producer on Washington’s next release, the hostage drama ”John Q.” ”There’s no reason why he shouldn’t be [earning $20 million].” Regardless, the Oscar winner’s club membership is on hold for now: Washington took a salary cut to grease the skids for the upcoming ”Finding Fish,” his directorial debut.