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Box Office: ‘Mamma Mia’ Sequel Heads Toward Big $41 Million Opening

“Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” is heading for an impressive opening weekend in the $41 million range at 3,317 sites in North America, early estimates showed Friday.

Denzel Washington’s “The Equalizer 2” should finish second with a solid $33 million at 3,388 locations, followed by the second weekend of “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation” with about $23 million. The opening of horror sequel “Unfriended: Dark Web” will open with a moderate take of around $4 million at 1,549 venues.

The weekend represents a rare instance of three sequels opening in wide release at the same time. The only other occurrence came on the Dec. 16-18, 2011, frame with the launches of “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol,” “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” and “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked.”

Universal’s “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” topped moviegoing on Thursday night with $3.4 million in preview showings that began at 7 p.m. Sony’s “The Equalizer 2” launched with $3.1 million in Thursday previews that began at 4 p.m. Thursday.

Universal’s follow-up to its 2008 musical “Mamma Mia!” had been tracking for a three-day tally between $30 million and $36 million. The predecessor — based on the long-running London stage musical about Abba songs — opened with $27 million on the same weekend a decade ago and finished with $145 million domestically and $615 million worldwide on a $52 million budget.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” is both a sequel and a prequel, highlighted again by Abba songs. Most of the original cast — Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard, Colin Firth, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, and Dominic Cooper — are reprising their roles with Cher and Lily James joining the sequel. Ol Parker directed from his own script. Critics have been enthusiastic with a 77% score on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Equalizer 2” had been forecast for a launch in the $27 million to $32 million range with the studio’s guidance at the lower end. Washington reprises his role as retired CIA agent Robert McCall in the first sequel of Washington’s career. Antoine Fuqua returned to direct with Pedro Pascal, Ashton Sanders, Melissa Leo, and Bill Pullman co-starring. McCall sets out to avenge the murder of Leo’s character as he masterfully fends off an array of assassins.

If estimates hold, “Equalizer 2” will have a slightly lower opening weekend than the first film, which launched in 2014 with $35 million and went on to generate $192 million worldwide, including $101 million in North America. Critical reception for “Equalizer 2” has been mixed with a 49% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Sony’s second weekend of “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation” should lead the rest of the pack in third, followed by the third weekend of Disney-Marvel’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp” at about $15 million. The second frame of Dwayne Johnson’s “Skyscraper” will be battling the sixth weekend of Disney-PIxar’s “Incredibles 2” for fifth place with about $10 million each.

“Incredibles 2” has grossed a blockbuster $545.8 million domestically as of July 19 and is ninth-highest North American grosser of all time. “Skyscraper,” which grossed $35 million in its first week, will fall by about 60% from its disappointing opening frame.

The fifth weekend of Universal’s “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” will finish in seventh in the $8 million range, which will make it the 37th movie to top $380 million in domestic grosses. Universal’s third weekend of “The First Purge” and BH Tilt’s “Unfriended: Dark Web” will be battling for the eighth spot at about $4 million each.

“Unfriended: Dark” is under-performing forecasts, which had been in the $6 million to $8 million range at 1,549 locations this weekend. The original Blumhouse found-footage title, “Unfriended,” opened to double that number in 2014 with $15.8 million on its way to a final domestic total of $32.5 million.

“Dark Web” follows a group of friends — Colin Woodell, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Betty Gabriel, and Andrew Lees — who discover a laptop with disturbing files. Reviews have been mixed with a 56% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Domestic box office surged during the second quarter, thanks to “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Incredibles 2.” As of July 18, the overall 2018 total is up 7.9% to $6.89 billion, according to comScore. Tom Cruise’s “Mission: Impossible — Fallout,” the sixth movie in the franchise, opens next weekend amid tracking in the $50 million to $65 million range.

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