Even though Universal’s original ABBA sequel Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again was unexpectedly beat by Sony’s Equalizer 2 for the No. 1 spot at the North American’s weekend box office, $35.8 million to $34.4 million, the Universal City studio can celebrate that its clicked past the $1 billion mark at the domestic box office today. It marks the lot’s eighth time in a row to eclipse the milestone.
Universal currently ranks second for the year behind Disney, which has amassed $2.55 billion off its Marvel, Star Wars and Pixar fare.
Overall this weekend, Universal titles took four spots in the box office’s top 10: Mamma Mia 2, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom ($11M), Skyscraper ($10.96M) and Blumhouse’s The First Purge ($4.98M), altogether grossing $61.3M and repping 36% of the weekend’s $169.1M ticket sales per ComScore.
Universal continually builds a diverse slate with not just tentpole fare but also appealing counterprogramming that overindexes with females and African American audiences. Not to mention, there’s also product from such partners as Amblin/DreamWorks and microbudget cash cow Blumhouse.
Amblin’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is on its way to $400M stateside, having already cleared $1 billion worldwide, and continues to be a legendary franchise that plays to generations for the studio.
Fifty Shades Freed, the final chapter in the trilogy based on E.L. James’ romantic erotic novels, was a big destination for females earlier this year, opening to $38.5M and legging out to $100.4M. Mamma Mia 2 is also expected to leg out through the fall, and bring in more females; its 2008 chapter did a 5.2 multiple off its $27.7M opening for a final $144M domestic take. Blumhouse’s Insidious: The Last Key is the studio’s third highest-grossing title to date this year with $67.3M, followed by the label’s The First Purge which is up to $60.1M as of today.
Though comedies haven’t worked at the box office in quite some time, Uni broke through with the highest opening for the genre year to date with Point Grey’s R-rated teen comedy Blockers, earning $20.6M in its opening weekend off heat from its SXSW world premiere and a final near $60M stateside. The Kay Cannon-directed pic has grossed $93M worldwide off a $21M production cost.
A sampling of notable upcoming features from Uni include DreamWorks’ The House With a Clock in Its Walls (September 21), the Kevin Hart-Tiffany Haddish comedy Night School (September 28), First Man (October 12), Miramax/Blumhouse’s Halloween (October 19), Illumination Entertainment’s Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (November 9), the Peter Jackson- and Fran Walsh-produced Mortal Engines (December 14) and Robert Zemeckis’ Welcome to Marwen (Decemeber 21).