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After the original film Skyscraper underperformed at the box office last weekend, we're back into sequel territory this weekend with a battle between The Equalizer 2 and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. One is an action thriller starring Denzel Washington while the other is a musical based on the songs of a Swedish band from the 70's. Although you might expect the action film to cruise to an easy victory in the heat of summer, it is looking like the musical sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again will be the one to snag the top spot at the box office with a projected take of $30-$36 million.
Proving that you can never underestimate the power of ABBA and the efficacy of counter-programming, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is poised to take first place according to Deadline. The estimated box office returns of $30-$36 million should be enough to eclipse The Equalizer 2, which is estimated to bring in $26 million. That should be good enough for second place for the R-rated actioner. Last weekend's winner, the animated kids film Hotel Transylvania 3, will be close behind the new releases, dropping from last weekend's $44 million debut to pick up around $24-$26 million in its second frame. Dwayne Johnson's Skyscraper will likely drop around 50% to land somewhere in the $12-$13 million range.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again looks like it will succeed using the same strategy that worked so well for the original Mamma Mia! a decade ago. When that film debuted in 2008, it opened opposite a little film called The Dark Knight, and although that Batman sequel made $238.6 million opening weekend, there was enough to go around and the counter-programming brought out female audiences of all ages to net Mamma Mia! $27.8 million. Mamma Mia! went on to earn over $600 million worldwide at the box office. Universal is no doubt hoping for a similar performance from the sequel.
In addition to being a sequel to a beloved film that is catering to an audience perhaps not as interested in things going boom, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again should also benefit from positive reviews. The sequel film is currently sitting at 85% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Its competition, The Equalizer 2, on the other hand, is at 40%.
Although it also benefitted from being a sequel to an established franchise, Hotel Transylvania 3 proved last weekend how effective it can be to cater to an underserved audience. Last weekend it was young kids and this weekend women of all ages, and probably more than a few men, will prove that they will come out for the right titles. Obviously, this isn't going to work all of the time and there are myriad of factors that influence box office success but it does show the power of offering a variety of films and catering to different demographics.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again dances its way into theaters this weekend. For all of the biggest movies hitting theater the rest of the year, check out our release schedule.