Sequels Continue to Arrive as 'Mamma Mia 2', 'Equalizer 2' and 'Unfriended 2' Hit Theaters

by Brad Brevet

July 19, 2018

SATURDAY AM UPDATE: With an estimated $14.7 million, Universal's Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again led the way, heading toward what could be a $40 million opening weekend, well ahead of the $27.7 million opening for the original. The film received an "A-" CinemaScore from opening day audiences.

Internationally, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again opened in 41 markets this weekend including major markets U.K. & Ireland, Germany, Australia, Sweden and Spain. The film has so far grossed $20.7 million through Friday (including $5 million in previews).

Sony's The Equalizer 2 is also exceeding expectations, delivering an estimated $13.5 million on Friday, looking as if it will open with $33+ million for the weekend, just shy of the $34.1 million the original debuted with in 2014. The film received an "A" CinemaScore from opening day audiences.

Further down the list, BH Tilt's Unfriended: Dark Web brought in an estimated $1.39 million on Friday and is expected to finish the weekend right around $3.5 million if not a touch higher. The film received an "C" CinemaScore from opening day audiences.

You can check out all of the Friday estimates right here and we'll be back tomorrow morning with a complete look at the weekend.

FRIDAY AM UPDATE: Universal Pictures' Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again grossed an impressive $3.4 million in previews from 2,850 theaters. The performance is behind the $4.6 million in previews for Pitch Perfect 2, though ahead of the $1.1 million in previews for Into the Woods. However, as mentioned in our previews below, comps for this title are a little difficult, even more so since the concept of previews weren't the same ten years ago when the original Mamma Mia! only held midnight screenings, grossing $153k from 379 theaters.

Nipping at Mamma Mia!'s heels is Sony's The Equalizer 2, which also had a strong preview showing, bringing in $3.1 million from evening showings, which began at 4PM in 2,934 locations. The studio is still projecting $26 million for the three-day weekend, but this performance is well ahead of the $1.5 million in previews for the first film, which went on to open with $34.1 million. It's also ahead of the $2.2 million in previews for John Wick: Chapter Two as well as the $720k in previews for Non-Stop, two films we used in our preview below.

We are still waiting on preview results for Unfriended: Dark Web.

We'll take a closer look at things tomorrow morning once Friday estimates come in. For now you can check out our weekend preview below.

WEEKEND PREVIEW: To the very best of our knowledge, this weekend will serve as the first time ever that eight of the top ten films at the weekend box office will be sequels. Both of the past two weekends have featured seven sequels within the top ten — which had happened before (see the very same weekend two years ago) — but with the release of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, The Equalizer 2 and Unfriended: Dark Web this weekend, it's virtually guaranteed at least eight of this weekend's top ten films will be sequels.

The sequel leading the charge will be Universal's release of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, which debuts ten years after the first film delivered over $144 million domestically and an impressive $609.8 million worldwide, which, at the time, was the highest grossing musical worldwide until Beauty and the Beast exploded to $1.26 billion worldwide last year. While Mamma Mia 2 won't challenge Beauty's record, we expect it to challenge its predecessor both domestically and abroad. Reviews for the sequel are an improvement over those for the original and online ticket retailer is reporting the film is not only outpacing The Greatest Showman, but is actually outpacing Pitch Perfect 2, the latter of which opened with a monstrous $69.2 million.

While we aren't seeing any evidence of a debut nearly as high as Pitch Perfect 2, we are expecting a performance above the $27.7 million debut for the 2008 original, as is Universal. IMDb page view data shows the film pacing behind Pitch Perfect 2, which is to be expected, while outpacing Sony's Annie and, in fact, performing just a touch behind Fifty Shades Darker, which opened with $46.6 million last year. That film's R-rating, however, makes it a tough comp as does any attempt to compare to films such as Into the Woods and The Greatest Showman given their holiday release patterns. All that being said, these comparisons can prove useful when taking their various differences into account, which leads us to anticipating an opening around $35-40+ million.

In addition to its domestic debut, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again opens day-and-date in 41 international markets including the U.K. and Ireland, Australia, Germany, Norway, Spain and Sweden, with additional markets rolling out through September.

Second place will be interesting as we're expecting Hotel Transylvania 3 to drop around 42% for a $25.6 million second weekend and a domestic cume approaching $95 million after ten days in release. Whether that will be enough to top Sony's release of The Equalizer 2 will be something to keep an eye on.

Denzel Washington returns alongside director Antoine Fuqua in the sequel to the 2014 thriller that debuted with $34 million before topping $100 million at the domestic box office. The studio is expecting the sequel to debut right around $25 million and the data we're looking at supports those expectations with a realistic shot at over-performing.

Looking at IMDb page view data, the film is pacing just a bit behind the original film, as well as right behind Liam Neeson's Non-Stop ($28.8m opening) as well as behind John Wick: Chapter Two. It is, however, pacing well ahead of London Has Fallen, which opened with $21.6 million in March of 2016. Based on what we're seeing, an opening anywhere from $25-30 million seems most likely, challenging Hotel Transylvania 3 for that second place slot at the box office.

Disney and Marvel's Ant-Man and the Wasp is looking at a fourth place finish, dropping around 48% for a $15+ million third weekend in release, pushing toward a domestic cume topping $160 million by the end of the weekend.

Just as second place could be a tight race, so too could be fifth between Dwayne Johnson's Skyscraper and Disney and Pixar's Incredibles 2, both of which should pull in around $11 million this weekend. In fact, should Incredibles 2 bump Skyscraper for fifth it would be only the second time ever that all five films in the weekend top five were sequels. The first time was only two weeks ago.

Outside the top five is where we find BH Tilt's Unfriended: Dark Web, a sequel to the 2015 film, which opened with $15.8 million and grossed just over $32 million domestically on a $1 million budget. The sequel isn't getting as wide a release as its predecessor and as such expectations aren't as high, though that doesn't mean a smaller opening would be a disappointment. The film arrives on the heels of Upgrade, the label's largest domestic performer to date, and a look at IMDb page view data shows the Unfriended sequel pacing very closely to Upgrade. The film opens in 1,546 locations, and we're currently anticipating a performance right around $4-5 million. Should it manage to reach the $5 million mark this weekend it would top the $4.95 million opening for The Darkness, which currently ranks as BH Tilt's largest debut to date.

In limited release, Lionsgate will debut Summit's Blindspotting in 14 locations this weekend in advance of its nationwide expansion next weekend. Additionally, Bleecker Street will debut the documentary McQueen in four theaters; Film Movement will open The Third Murder in two theaters; and IFC's Far from the Tree opens in one location.

This weekend's forecast is directly below. This post will be updated on Friday morning with Thursday night preview results followed by Friday estimates on Saturday morning, and a complete weekend recap on Sunday morning.

  • Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! (3,317 theaters) - $36.0 M
  • The Equalizer 2 (3,388 theaters) - $26.0 M
  • Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (4,267 theaters) - $25.6 M
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp (3,778 theaters) - $15.1 M
  • Skyscraper (3,822 theaters) - $11.2 M
  • Incredibles 2 (3,164 theaters) - $11.0 M
  • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (3,375 theaters) - $7.7 M
  • The First Purge (2,331 theaters) - $4.8 M
  • Unfriended: Dark Web (1,546 theaters) - $4.7 M
  • Sorry to Bother You (1,050 theaters) - $3.4 M

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