BOX OFFICE: “Mamma Mia” and “Equalizer” sequels overperform, “Unfriended 2” bombs

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Pulling together lesser known ABBA songs and flinging the writer of “Love Actually” and “Four Weddings and a Funeral” at the script paid off for Universal as a somewhat played “Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again” isn’t going “Andante, Andante” at the box office.

A $40 million weekend, maybe just a smidge more, when all they expected by low to mid $30s is a great return on a movie they didn’t need Meryl Streep in (as much) after all. Reviews were either effusive or at least middling, but the lure of Cher and Andy Garcia was more than audiences could resist.

Thursday night was so so, but Friday was big for the musical. But when I went to a showing of “The Equalizer 2” Thursday night, there were a LOT more people there for that than ABBA fans. Denzel’s a pretty big draw himself, and the “I’ll make this wrong right” vigilante sequel to the movie based on the TV series is punching WAY over its weight. $36 million? It was widely tracked as being a $26 million hit, pre-opening. Reviews aren’t helping it, but they aren’t hurting it either. What works, works.
Similarly, when I saw “Unfriended: The Dark Web,” I was among maybe 4 people in the theater. And three were playing with their phones. It works as a piece of cyber-engineered horror, but the kids these days, they want haunted houses, haunted dolls, ghosts skittering over the ceilings and such. “Unfriended” won’t even hit $4 million, barely cracking the top ten.

“Hotel Transylvania 3” fell 50% in ticket sales and will finish third, with $22 million.

“Ant-Man and The Wasp” are together buzzing off screens — down another 45-50%, $15 million.

“Incredibles 2” is closing in on $575 million, domestic alone.

“Sorry to Bother You” spends one more weekend in the top ten, and will have cleared $10 million by midnight Sunday.

“Skyscraper?” It added screens (for some reason) and lost almost 60% of its weak opening weekend take. “The Purge,” from the same studio, cost far less and will clear $60 million by Tuesday or so.

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