‘Equalizer 2’ edges ‘Mamma Mia’ at box office, but musical poised for long-term success

In a face-off between sequels, “The Equalizer 2” edged out “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” to win the weekend box-office crown.

Sony’s SNE, +0.61%  R-rated action movie “Equalizer 2” — which was star Denzel Washington’s first sequel — fared surprisingly well, earning an estimated $35.8 million in North America, outpacing its predecessor’s debut in 2014. The first “Equalizer” earned almost $200 million overall.

The “Mamma Mia” musical sequel, from Comcast’s CMCSA, -1.75%  Universal Pictures, took in an estimated $34.4 million domestically over the weekend, tacking on an additional $42.4 million overseas.

That far outpaced the original’s 2008 debut, which earned $27.7 million in its opening weekend and went on to reap $609.8 million worldwide.

With an all-star cast including Meryl Streep, Cher, Amanda Seyfried and Pierce Brosnan, the film is expected to fare well in foreign markets, especially with female moviegoers, who made up 80% of its audience, according to comScore.

“We consider this a terrific opening,” Jim Orr, Universal’s president of domestic distribution, told the Associated Press. “And knowing the audience for these types of films, we are going to have a very healthy run at the domestic and worldwide box office. This is a very fun, very uplifting movie that people need right now.”

Overseas moviegoers will also be key to the success of a domestic flop, Dwayne Johnson’s “Skyscraper,” which earned just $11 million in North America in its second weekend. The Hong Kong-set action movie grossed $75 million internationally, though, thanks to a $45 million opening in China, according to Variety, and Universal and Wanda Group’s Legendary Entertainment are banking on its global appeal. “Skyscraper” has grossed almost $177 million worldwide.

Aside from “Equalizer 2” and “Mamma Mia,” sequels rounded out the weekend’s top five. Sony’s “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation,” earned $23.2 million domestically for third place, followed by “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” from Walt Disney’s DIS, -0.58%  Marvel Studios, with $16.1 million and “Incredibles 2,” from Disney’s Pixar, with $11.5 million. That animated superhero sequel is closing in on the $1 billion mark, grossing $940.1 million so far worldwide.

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