“Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” has opened with a solid $3.4 million at 2,850 North American locations in Thursday night preview showings that began at 7 p.m.
That was enough for the musical to top Denzel Washington’s “The Equalizer 2,” which launched with $3.1 million at 2,934 sites in Thursday previews that began at 4 p.m. Thursday.
Universal’s follow-up to its 2008 musical “Mamma Mia!” is tracking for a three-day tally between $30 million and $36 million when it opens in over 3,317 venues. Its predecessor 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 — including 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 cast. Ol Parker, the screenwriter behind “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” directed from his own script. Critics have been enthusiastic with an 80% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Sony’s “The Equalizer 2” is shooting for a $27 million to $32 million launch at 3,388 sites this weekend with the studio projecting at the lower end of those numbers. Washington reprises his role as retired CIA agent Robert McCall in the first sequel of Washington’s career. Antoine Fuqua returned to direct the movie, which also stars Pedro Pascal, Ashton Sanders, Melissa Leo, and Bill Pullman. McCall sets out to avenge the murder of Leo’s character as he fends off an array of assassins.
If estimates hold, “Equalizer 2” will have a lower opening weekend than the first film. Despite lukewarm reviews, “The Equalizer” opened in 2014 with $35 million — including Thursday previews of $1.5 million at 2,693 sites — and went on to generate $192 million worldwide, including $101 million in North America. Critical reception for “Equalizer 2” has been mixed and it stands at 47% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Sony’s second weekend of “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation” will lead the rest of the pack in third with about $20 million to $25 million, followed by the third weekend of Disney-Marvel’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp” at about $15 million and the second frame of Dwayne Johnson’s “Skyscraper” at around $10 million.
BH Tilt is also opening horror sequel “Unfriended: Dark Web,” which has been forecast for a start between $6 million and $8 million 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.
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. Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore, noted that all three openers are also sequels with the sixth “Mission: Impossible” movie due next weekend.
“We are now about two-thirds of the way through a summer that holds a solid 11.8% lead over last year and notably, July has been a star-studded affair with Meryl Streep and Denzel Washington being the latest to join their ranks and of course Tom Cruise is on deck with ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ set to power into theaters next week to help keep the ticket buying momentum going strong at the multiplex,” he added.