‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ Belting $41M+; ‘Equalizer 2’ Targets $34M – Late Friday Update
- 3rd Update, Late Friday: A great weekend at the box office here, with both Universal’s Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and Sony’s Equalizer 2 both over-performing.
The Ol Parker-directed original ABBA musical is looking at an estimated No. 1 win, with $41M after a $15.3M Friday (including last night’s $3.4M previews), while the Denzel Washington sequel is eyeing around $13.5M today (including Thursday’s $3.1M), with an amazing $34M three-day. Rival distribution sources believe both pics could even go higher.
Two-thirds of Mamma Mia 2‘s audience tonight is female, with the 25+ crowd also making up two-thirds. Definite recommend is high, near 70%, with great interest among younger females. Much like the first film, which posted a 5.2 multiple off its $27.7M opening for a $144.1m domestic result, this sequel is going to leg out greatly into the fall. Remember how well The Greatest Showman did during the cutthroat holiday environment of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Jumanji 2? That Hugh Jackman tuner ended its run at $174.3M stateside after being squashed by a ton of competition during its opening weekend, with a four-day of $14.4M.
Beams social media monitor RelishMix about the positive word of mouth for Mamma Mia 2: ” For a summer that’s light on musicals and fun comedy romps, this sequel has found its audience. Fans of the original film love that there’s a part two. They’re calling out their favorite characters – which is a diverse and evenly spread list – and the fact that pop icon Cher is added to the mix. Fans are also calling out the exotic and vacation-esque locale, the songs, and even (YouTube stars) the Merrell Twins as reason they’ve seen the clips and plan to go see it in theaters.” Much like Universal did for Pitch Perfect 3 with YouTube personality Todrick Hall and his individual a cappella performance the week before that pic’s opening, here we have the Twins sharing a clip with their fans, which is a cover of one of the beloved songs. It’s earned over 200K views a day since its posting three days ago. Convo confirms that this tactic of offering one last fun bit of social fun the week of opening really works, as many fans, per RelishMix claim they watched the final trailer because of this particular clip: Ever since the 2008 film grossed $609.8M WW off a $52M production, Universal was always kicking the tires at a sequel. The trick? Allowing part two to take its own sweet time in development and not rush it. While the breezy project looks feasible to put together, the creators always thought twice before attaching any ABBA song to a scene, so that the end result didn’t come off looking like a jukebox of hits crowbar-ed together on screen. Judy Craymer, the pic’s producer and creator of the London West End and Broadway musical, huddled with the rock group’s songmeisters Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, as well as the musical and movie’s scribe Catherine Johnson, plus Love Actually screenwriter Richard Curtis. Meryl Streep had already made her mark in the first chapter, and her limited involvement in the sequel here opened a door for the creators to mount a prequel centered around the younger self of her character Donna, portrayed here by Baby Driver‘s Lily James. Adding in Cher as Donna’s mother boosted the prequel’s volume to another level. Uni announced the project a little over a year ago in May 2017, with the original cast returning and a whole set of ABBA hits not previously used in the first film. Uni debuted the first trailer online on December 20 and clocked 64M views, with the trailer being a worldwide trending topic on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. In addition, the trailer was attached to such pics as The Greatest Showman, Pitch Perfect 3, Fifty Shades Freed, and I Feel Pretty. Spots ran during such femme-demo series as the This Is Us finale, CW’s Riverdale, and targeted Broadway and music lovers during NBC’s Easter telecast of Jesus Christ Superstar Live and CBS’ Elton John: I’m Still Standing. The trailer also ran during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics (74 Runs), and there was a custom spot on NBC during The Royal Wedding, further pumped by the first ever sing-along broadcast of Mamma Mia! (NBC July 14, E! July 19).
Advance tickets went on sale around Mother’s Day, and during the week leading up, Uni banged the drum with a number of stunts to spread the word, specifically a blitz of non-stop Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again hits. This tactic proved successful with media that delivered over 290M impressions and a social conversation that reached 420M global users. Highlights included sing-along screenings on Mother’s Day of the 2008 film in the top 25 markets, big theater chains’ advanced ticket loyalty programs sending out messages from the cast, and the second trailer debuting on Today on May 8 as part of its Mother’s Day festivities (69M+ views). There was also the debut of the “When I Kissed the Teacher” lyric video, which brought in more than 3.5M global views, with the track being offered as a bonus gift with Fandango advance ticket purchases. Promo partners included Sunbasket, with a themed Mediterranean box; Pinkberry with a custom flavor of “Mamma Mia Mango”; and 1-800-Flowers, which included two themed bouquets with a movie ticket offer.
Should Equalizer 2‘s numbers remain intact, it will only be $100K shy of the first installment’s opening, which is remarkable. Many, including Sony, weren’t expecting this sequel to break the $30M mark, especially off of a ho-hum Rotten Tomatoes score of 49%. Sony reports that the production cost of Equalizer 2 is $62M. However, we hear even after Massachusetts state tax credits, that the net is in the high $70Ms. Still, film finance sources are impressed with the weekend results here for Equalizer 2, and think it could squeeze out a bit of a profit, with a domestic of $85M-$90M and foreign repping 45% of global. Forty-seven percent of the first Equalizer‘s $192.3M global B.O. came from foreign or $90.8M. While it’s been over-written that stars can no longer be relied upon to open movies, in many ways the success here with Equalizer 2 can be pegged to Denzel Washington, who, with a solid entertaining picture, can reach a $30M-$40M opening. The sequel, Washington’s first, is bound to rank in the 2x Oscar winner’s top five of all-time. Equalizer 2 reps Washington’s fourth movie with filmmaker Antoine Fuqua (including Equalizer 1, Magnificent 7, and Training Day, which delivered Washington a best actor win). Sony’s Hotel Transylvania 3 is taking third as of this minute, with an estimated $23.5M, -47% and a 10-day total of $91.4M. Today looks like $7M for the Genndy Tartakovsky-directed animated threequel. Family franchise weight from Disney/Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp ($15.2M in weekend 3 and $163.7M) and Pixar Studios Incredibles 2 ($11.1M, -32% in weekend 6 for a total of $556.9M) continues to crush Dwayne Johnson’s Skyscraper from Universal/Legendary, which is estimated to drop 60% for $10M and a 10-day of $45.8M. “It’s dying really bad,” cries one rival business affairs executive. That said, Universal can relish that they’re arguably dominating all ticket sales this weekend, $65.5M combined from Mamma Mia 2, Skyscraper, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and The First Purge.
Outside the top five, BH Tilt’s micro genre opener Unfriended: Dark Web is expected to bring in $3.3M at 1,546 theaters after a $1.5M Friday, which includes $350K in Thursday previews. Know that this film cost under $1M, just like its first installment, which was released by Uni. Unfriended grossed $64M WW, and after all downstream revenues posted a $17M profit. Blumhouse walked this sequel into SXSW last spring as an ‘untitled’ movie directed by US Grudge franchise scribe Stephen Susco, with the festival catalog logline reading, “A 20-something finds a cache of hidden files on his new laptop and is thrust into the deep waters of the dark web. From the makers of Unfriended, this thriller unravels in real-time, entirely on a computer screen. A warning for the digital age.” Jason Blum then surprised SXSW crowds by revealing the pic’s title before its SXSW screening. BH Tilt movies always target a specific genre crowd with a minimal digital P&A. Unfriended: Dark Web is the label’s tenth movie, and it opens on the heels of BH Tilt’s most successful title to date, Upgrade ($11.9M domestic).
Lionsgate has their Sundance acquisition Blindspotting in 14 theaters in five markets this weekend (New York, Los Angeles, DC, Chicago and San Francisco, as well as Oakland, Calif., where the pic’s story was filmed and takes place) and we’re hearing at this early time that it’s posting around a mid $20K per theater for the weekend. That’s a rough estimate. We’ll have a weekend chart of estimates later tonight. 1st Update, Friday 7:31AM: Thursday night audiences took a chance on Universal/Legendary Entertainment’s Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, shelling out $3.4 million at showtimes that started at 7 PM. The original feature sequel to the 2008 movie that was based on the hit ABBA stage musical is tracking for a mid-$30M start, though many believe, especially off advance ticket sales, this Ol Parker-directed movie could definitely over-index. Advance ticket sales are high as older females always plan their visits to the movie theater with friends, and Here We Go Again comes at a time when the demo hasn’t had anything since Warner Bros/Village Roadshow’s Ocean’s 8. But younger females are equally stoked by Here We Go Again as well, as the first installment drew all women ages 8-80. According to Fandango, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again was outstripping the advance ticket sales of Universal’s Pitch Perfect 2 at the same point in time. That movie went on to surprise and open at $69M. While advance ticket sales can indicate whether a pic will over-index at the box office, there’s no direct correlation to whether they’ll emulate the same exact trajectory as their comp. Today, Here We Go Again expands to 3,200 theaters. Some comps for Here We Go Again include Pitch Perfect 2, which posted a $4.6M Thursday night at 2,652 theaters. Disney’s adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim musical Into the Woods grossed $1.1M in previews, but that figure comes with an asterisk because the movie screened on Christmas Eve, historically one of the year’s lowest-grossing box office days.
Sony’s Equalizer 2, which reps Denzel Washington’s first sequel, is directed by the original’s director Antoine Fuqua and also previewed yesterday with showtimes starting at 4 PM. It grossed $3.1M at 2,934 theaters (studio will report its figures soon). Tracking expects the pic to open in the mid- to high-$20Ms. The 2014 original opened to No. 1 in late September to $34.1M. Thursday previews then were $1.45M at 2,693 theaters and started at 7 PM. Other comps: Washington’s 2 Guns grossed $1.27M at 8 PM screenings and wound up with a $27M opening. Whether Equalizer 2 comes in No. 2 depends on how strong Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation holds. Industry expectations had Weekend 2 of the Sony Animation feature between $24M-$26M, down 43%. The threequel ended its week with an estimated $66.6M ($67.9M including Amazon Prime sneaks), which is 16% higher than the first week’s take of Hotel Transylvania 2.