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411 Box Office Report: The Equalizer 2 Tops Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again to Win Weekend

July 22, 2018 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Equalizer 2

Denzel Washington beat out Meryl Streep in the battle of sequels, as The Equalizer 2 won the box office crown this weekend. The action-thriller sequel scored the #1 spot in its opening weekend with $35.8 million, vastly topping the mid-$20 million prediction most analysts had for it going in. The opening figures edged out the original’s $34.1 million from September of 2014 despite stronger competition.

The lesson is this: never bet against Denzel. Sure, Washington has had some disappointing openings in his past (anyone remember The Great Debaters or John Q?). Even last year’s Roman Q. Israel didn’t set the box office on fire. But other than that anomaly, Washington has been the most reliable box office star over the last decade. He was the driving factor for Equalizer 2 with ease, helped along by a solid marketing effort that focused almost entirely on him. The positive reputation of the original film helped as well, allowing it to overcome mediocre reviews for the sequel (a 51% average on Rotten Tomatoes).

The good news for distributor Sony keeps coming with this one, particularly in that audiences liked it even more than the first. The CinemaScore stands at a stellar A, just above the A- of the first film. That will help word of mouth on this, which it will need with some high-profile blockbusters still to come. Either way, the film is looking to do at least $110 million in the US, which would top the original’s $101.5 million domestic final. Overseas, Equalizer 2 is just getting started with $3.3 million in nine smaller markets. On a $62 million budget, this will make money for Sony/Columbia.

While it was the runner-up, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! has nothing to cry about with a $34.4 million opening weekend. That is about on target for what most expected it to do. The musical sequel also topped its predecessor, surpassing Mamma Mia’s $27.8 million opening from July of 2008. Considering how long it’s been since the original film, that’s a very strong number that can be chalked up to a relatively empty market for the female demographic. Strong reviews didn’t hurt either; Hero We Go Again is sitting at 79% on RT, well ahead of the first film’s 54%. The CinemaScore was the same as the original’s at an A-.

Universal has no reason to expect that this ensemble musical will be anything less than a hit for them. The first film had serious box office stamina, legging out to $144.1 million (a 5.19 multiple) during a summer that was dominated by offerings that aimed toward a fandom-heavy market (Iron Man, The Dark Knight, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). Don’t forget how well musicals have performed as of late, particularly The Greatest Showman’s unprecedented legs over the holiday season.

Here We Go Again won’t touch the Hugh Jackman musical’s week-to-week drops, but it shouldn’t have too much a problem matching the original’s $145 million range and could go higher. Overseas results will also be strong; the first film grossed a stellar $465.7 million internationally. Hero We Go Again started out with $42.4 million overseas for a $76.7 million worldwide start. On a $75 million budget, this is going to be a nice hit for the studio.

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation fell to #3 in its second weekend with $23.2 million. That number is off 48%, much higher than the 36% for the first film and 32% for the second. Don’t feel too bad, though; Summer Vacation now sits at $91.1 million domestically and $206.9 million worldwide already. It won’t hit the numbers of the second film but should still make it to around $150 million domestically. On an $80 million budget, Sony is making money here.

Ant-Man & The Wasp scored $16.1 million in its third weekend, off 45% from last weekend. The MCU sequel now stands at $164.6 million domestically and $353.5 million worldwide. At this point, the movie looks likely to finish off with around $195 million domestically and will be another profitable MCU film on its $162 million budget.

Pixar came in at #4 with The Incredibles 2, which slipped just 29% in its sixth weekend with $11.5 million. The animated superhero sequel has brought its totals to $557.3 million domestically and $940.4 million worldwide. It should be able to finish off with an easy $580 million and has a very legitimate shot at $1 billion worldwide. The budget was $200 million.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom raked in another $11 million in its sixth weekend, down a very solid 32%. The movie is showing some late-run strength and currently sits at $383.9 million domestically and $1.196 billion worldwide, a hit on a $170 million budget. $400 million is entirely within the film’s capabilities at this point.

The weekend wasn’t good for Dwayne Johnson’s Skyscraper which followed up its disappointing start with a 56% drop to $11 million. The Rock-starring action-thriller had a heavier sophomore fall than its nearest comparisons in Johnson’s resume, April’s Rampage (44%) and 2015’s San Andreas (53%). The film is currently sitting at $46.7 million domestically and $131.8 million worldwide, which are both less impressive than Universal was probably hoping for. The film should end with around $75 million in the US and probably won’t make a profit against its $125 million budget, plus marketing.

The First Purge was off 50% in its third weekend to $5 million. The prequel thriller is up to $60.2 million domestically and $94.5 million worldwide, meaning it has already turned a profit on its low $13 million budget. It should be able to make it to around $70 million to $75 million, which is around where the last two films in the series landed.

Unfriended: Dark Web found itself out in the cold, ringing up a hollow $3.5 million in its opening weekend. Those are not happy numbers for Blumhouse, who were expecting a mid-high single-digit opening. And even that was a modest projection; the first Unfriended was a breakout hit with $15.8 million in April of 2015.

The unfortunate truth here is simple: audience just weren’t interested in an Unfriended sequel. The original was polarizing among fans despite a decent 63% Rotten Tomatoes score, and the new film was slightly less well-liked by critics at 57%. The original film only doubled its opening weekend by the end of its run, scoring $32.5 million, so word of mouth wasn’t great. Dark Web was cheap, as per the usual Blumhouse strategy, but it may not even make back its $1 million plus marketing budget. A $10 million final domestic gross is possible, but by no means certain.

Annapurna Pictures’ Sorry to Bother You closed out the top ten with $2.8 million, down 33%. The sci-fi comedy is up to $10.3 million and should make it to around $15 million to $18 million. It’s a money maker for the studio on a $3.2 million budget.

Ethan Hunt will rule the box office next weekend as the critically-buzzed Mission: Impossible – Fallout crashes into theaters. The film should start in the $60 million to $65 million range. Also opening is the animated Teen Titans Go! to the Movies, which is looking at a mid-teens start.

BOX OFFICE TOP TEN (Three-Day Domestic Numbers)
1. The Equalizer 2 – $35.8 million ($35.8 million total)
2. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! – $34.4 million ($34.4 million total)
3. Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation – $23.2 million ($91.1 million total)
4. Ant-Man & The Wasp – $16.1 million ($164.6 million total)
5. The Incredibles 2 – $11.5 million ($557.3 million total)
6. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – $11 million ($383.9 million total)
7. Skyscraper – $11 million ($46.7 million total)
8. The First Purge – $5 million ($60.2 million total)
9. Unfriended: Dark Web – $3.5 million ($3.5 million total)
10. Sorry to Bother You – $2.8 million ($10.3 million total)