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‘Equalizer 2,’ ‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ in Close Race at Box Office

Sony’s Denzel Washington thriller could snatch No. 1 from Universal’s ABBA musical

The numbers for Universal’s “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” and Sony’s “The Equalizer 2” have tightened, and now there’s a strong chance that the Denzel Washington thriller may take the No. 1 spot this weekend after the ABBA musical pulled to an early lead on Friday.

“Equalizer 2” is on pace to earn $35.8 million after independent trackers projected a $25 million opening before the weekend against a $62 million budget. By comparison, the first “Equalizer” opened to $34.1 million in 2014.

It’s a big victory for Washington, who stars in the first sequel of his career here and is the clear draw for audiences. While critics were mixed on the film with a 50 percent Rotten Tomatoes score, Washington’s fans raved over his performance as a street smart, gun-toting avenger and gave it an A on CinemaScore.

“Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” meanwhile, was looking at an opening weekend of $39-40 million after a $14.3 million opening Friday, but Saturday’s totals fell to $11 million, signifying a 23 percent Friday-Saturday drop. Estimates for the film are now set at $34.3 million, which is still by no means a disappointment for Universal, as it is closer to tracker projections for the film.

While the surprise victory for “Equalizer 2” is good news for that film, as it will need good word of mouth to match the first film’s $101 million domestic run, Universal won’t sweat the tail-off for “Mamma Mia!” The musical is likely to attract older female moviegoers who are fans of ABBA and the film’s 2008 predecessor.

Older moviegoers, who traditionally see a film in the later weeks of its theatrical run, pushed the first “Mamma Mia!” to incredible legs a decade ago, as it opened to $27 million and went on to finish with $144 million domestically. The sequel also has a stronger reception than the first film, holding a 78 percent Rotten Tomatoes score and an A- on CinemaScore.

This weekend’s other new release is BH Tilt’s “Unfriended: Dark Web,” which has opened to $3.5 million and a ninth place finish on this weekend’s charts. While that’s below the $6-8 million pre-weekend projection for this horror film, it was made on a paltry $1 million budget like its 2014 predecessor. The film has a C on CinemaScore and 57 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Back on the Sony side, “Hotel Transylvania 3” is keeping up with its predecessors, sitting in third place with a second-weekend total of $23.2 million, just 47 percent off of it $44 million opening.

While “Hotel Transylvania 2” had a higher second weekend, “HT3” is making up for it with strong weekday numbers, giving it a 10-day estimate of $91 million compared to $90 million for “HT2.” This is what Sony was hoping for when they moved this animated film from its predecessors’ fall release schedule to mid-July, with kids who saw the previous films now out from school.

In fourth is Marvel Studios’ “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” which earned $16 million in its third weekend and has $163 million so far. The film is in position to pass the $180 million domestic run of the first “Ant-Man” in the coming week. Overseas, international rollout continues with releases in Western Europe, pushing the sequel’s global total to $353 million.

“Incredibles 2” is in fifth with $11.5 million, staying in the top five for a sixth weekend as it crosses $550 million domestically while closing in on $1 billion worldwide with a total of $940 million. Just behind it is “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” with $11 million, bringing its domestic total to $383 million. With a global total of $1.17 billion, the “Jurassic” film is $35 million away from passing “Iron Man 3” and entering the top 15 highest grossing films of all-time.

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