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.