The two greatest actors of their generation faced off against each other this weekend, with Denzel Washington’s Equalizer 2 taking on Meryl Streep’s Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. While Meryl (with the help of Cher) narrowly lost out to Denzel at the box office, both movies can come away very happy with their grosses.
Equalizer 2 did not fare that well with critics (49 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), but audiences gave it an A- Cinemascore, largely on the strength — I suspect — of Denzel’s presence. (There wasn’t much to his performance in this drab thriller, but it’s difficult not to feel in awe of the man’s presence in whatever movie he is in.) The sequel — the first in Denzel’s 40-year career — opened with around $35.8 million, improving upon the $34 million opening of the original. The first film went on to earn $100 million stateside and $190 million worldwide, and Equalizer 2 should see similar results, so the gambit clearly paid off for the two-time Oscar winner. As is the case with most Denzel movies, it’s all about his personal box-office drawing power. His movies don’t need much in the way of extra frills, superheroes, or A-list co-stars. People come for Denzel.
Ten years after the original Mamma Mia stormed toward a $145 million domestic box-office and a whopping $609 million worldwide, Here We Go Again returned with a strong $34.4 million opening, besting the opening weekend of the original by $7 million. While she doesn’t actually figure into the sequel that much, Streep was certainly a big selling point, along with Cher and the infectious music of ABBA, who apparently have enough hits to sustain two musicals. Reviews for the film have been favorable (78 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences have loved it, giving it an A- on Cinemascore. That’s a potent combination, so expect Here We Go Again, like its predecessor, to hang around in the top 10 for weeks.
Dwayne Johnson often has drawing power equal to that of Denzel, except in the case of Skyscraper, which is proving to be an even bigger dud than the first weekend’s poor outing portended. In its second weekend, Skyscraper fell 58 percent, all the way down to number seven at the box office, as it makes a hasty retreat toward the exits at the box office. That film has earned $46 million after 10 days. It’s opened in most places internationally, too, and it only earned $40 million in its first week, so it’s going to need a Hail Mary from China to save it. The good news is, Johnson is a huge star in China, and the middling Rampage fetched the third biggest gross of the year there in the spring.
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation continued to perform well in its second weekend, adding $22 million to bring the animated feature to $90 million after 10 days, making it even with its predecessor after two weekends. Ant-Man and The Wasp continues to perform well at number four, adding $15 million to bring its three-week total to $164 million, only $16 million short of the entire domestic haul for the original Ant Man.
Incredibles 2 also continues its impressive run, adding $11 million to bring its six-week total to $556 million. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, meanwhile, has earned $386 million after depositing another $10.7 million in the bank in its fifth week. Worldwide, it’s also approaching $1.2 billion. In its third week, The First Purge earned $4.6 million, good enough for number eight and $60 million.
There was another new entry in the top ten this week, Unfriended: The Dark Web, the Blumouse sequel to Unfriended, the surprise hit that earned $32 million on a $1 million price tag. The sequel is not faring as well, debuting with only $3.4 million, but I’m sure the movie’s budget was so paltry that it won’t put a dent in anyone’s pocketbook.
Rounding out the top ten, Sorry To Bother You added 250 more theaters and scored $2.7 million to bring its total to $10 million after three weeks, an impressive number of the independent film from Annapurna Pictures. It’s also worth noting the impressive outing of Blindspotting in its limited release. With 91 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and an A CinemaScore, Lionsgate’s Blindspotting earned a strong per-screen-average of $23,750 in 14 theaters. It goes nationwide next weekend.