Denzel Washington’s ‘The Equalizer 2’ came out ahead of ‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ to take the number one spot at this weekend’s box office.
‘The Equalizer’ opened with $35.8 million in North America while ‘Mamma Mia’ brought in $34.4.
The numbers could shift when final weekend earnings are tallied on Monday.
The female-fueled Mamma Mia 2 is by no means a disappointment in North America and opened in line with expectations. As it turned out, Equalizer 2 beat projections, thanks to an ethnically diverse audience and keen interest among men. (Rival studios show the movie coming in closer to $35 million, but Sony is counting on a strong Sunday.) Internationally, the pic only debuted in 11 markets, earning $3.3 million.
Equalizer 2 is the first sequel of Washington’s career. The original film was a sleeper hit in fall 2014 after opening to $34.1 million domestically. The budding franchise — both pics were directed by Antoine Fuqua — follows the exploits of an ex-government operative drawn back into action. This time out, Washington’s character is determined to exact revenge for the death of a friend. Males made up around 60 percent of ticket buyers.
“This opening speaks to the star power of Denzel Washington. And you can’t go wrong with the combination of Denzel and Antoine Fuqua,” says Sony distribution chief Adrian Smith, noting that the film marks Fuqua’s highest domestic opening. The exec also believes there is room for bothEqualizer 2 and another male-fueled action pic opening next weekend, Mission: Impossible — Fallout.
Pedro Pascal, Ashton Sanders, Melissa Leo and Bill Pullman also star in Equalizer 2, which marks the fourth movie Fuqua and Washington have made together after The Equalizer, Training Day and The Magnificent Seven.
Equalizer 2 earned an A CinemaScore, compared to an A- for its predecessor. Mamma Mia 2 received an A-, the same CinemaScore as the 2008 original.
Mamma Mia 2’s domestic opening came in 22 percent head of the first film, which opened to $27.7 million in summer 2008 on its way to grossing $609.8 million globally, not adjusted for inflation.
“We consider it an outstanding opening. These kind of movies leg out like crazy,” says Universal domestic distribution president Jim Orr.
A big curiosity factor is Cher, who, along with Lily James, are among the newcomers to the Mamma Mia! brand. Returning stars included Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep Julie Walters, Christine Baranski, Dominic Cooper, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan and Stellan Skarsgard. The story traverses time to when Streep’s character (Donna) is pregnant.
You can’t deny the power of Denzel!