We have seen this plot before. Major blockbuster on the way. Big star. Even bigger disappointment on its first impact at the box office. Then China comes to the rescue, and a potential major embarrassment turns into a success, or at least into something that is not so far from the break-even point. We have seen it again this weekend, when Dwayne Johnson’s Skyscraper finished its second outing in the domestic market as No. 6 in the ranks, with the battle for the top spot centered around two new sequels appealing to very different audiences: Denzel Washington’s The Equalizer 2 against Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.
Denzel’s action film had the best of it, with a $35.8 million debut. Mamma Mia! was close, with $34.4 million, although overseas the clear winner was the musical inspired by ABBA: $42.4 million out of 42 international territories. The UK was first with $13.1 million, followed by Australia, Germany and Sweden where ABBA were based. Ten years, and $610 million, later the old cast is back, including Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgård, Colin Firth, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters and Dominic Cooper. Lily James plays a younger version of Meryl’s Donna. This time around, Cher also joined the happy crowd.
Back to Dwayne Johnson’s Skyscraper, it was beaten in the US also by several holdovers, some of which have been around for over a month. In third position at the domestic box office was Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, with $23.2 million and a total of $91.1 million. By adding $40 million, the Sony’s property is now at $207 million. Next in the ranks was Disney and Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp, with $16.1 million and a worldwide total of $353 million: considering 44% of overseas territories – including China, the UK, Germany, and Japan – have not opened yet, a pretty solid showing so far. Fifth place went to another Disney property, Incredibles 2. With a global box office of $940 million, the $1 billion mark is now within sight.
Finally, Skyscraper. As analysts were wondering about The Rock’s star power, major relief came from China, where his latest film grossed $47.7 million. It was enough to conquer the title of worldwide champion for a week, with $86 million and $180 million so far. And to confirm that Dwayne Johnson, whose Furious 7 and The Fate of the Furious rank among the two highest grossing Hollywood films in China and who, just a few months ago, managed to squeeze $157 million out of Rampage, is still a major draw for Chinese audiences, who also appreciated the pic was shot in Hong Kong with many Chinese parts. Skyscraper’s success in the Middle Kingdom was also enough to unseat the local docudrama Dying to Survive from the top spot and has managed to attract $430 million in less than twenty days.
Next week we will witness the worldwide debut of Mission: Impossible – Fallout. Tom Cruise’s latest exploit comes with excellent word of mouth reviews and this may spell trouble for The Rock, for Denzel and for other action-based films. On the other hand, with an 80% female audience, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again should not be affected.