Boxofficemojo.com reports that "The Dark Knight" — which features the final film performance of the late Heath Ledger — was the highest-grossing film of the weekend. In fact, its $155,340,000 intake is the highest-grossing opening of any film to date.
"Mamma Mia!," which boasts Academy Award winner Streep as hip mom Donna Sheridan, placed second, taking in $27,605,000 for its first weekend in U.S. theatres. The "Mamma Mia!" gross is slightly higher than the first weekend intake of the "Hairspray" movie musical: That motion picture, which starred John Travolta as Edna Turnblad, brought in $27,476,745 during its first weekend in nationwide release.
Others in the top ten for the July 18-20, 2008, weekend include "Hancock" ($14,000,000), "Journey to the Center of the Earth" ($11,910,000), "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" ($10,038,000), "Wall-E" ($9,813,000), "Space Chimps" ($7,350,000), "Wanted" ($5,097,000), "Get Smart" ($4,085,000) and "Kung Fu Panda" ($1,750,000).
Following a record-breaking opening in the U.K., "Mamma Mia!" — the new film based on the international hit musical of the same name — opened in cinemas nationwide July 18.
The film made its world premiere June 30 in London's Leicester Square and subsequently opened in theatres in the U.K. July 4. The motion picture follows a slew of films based on Broadway musicals that have been produced in the past few years, including the Academy Award-winning "Chicago" as well as "Dreamgirls," "The Producers" and "Hairspray." Not only has the film met with box-office success, the motion picture's soundtrack is also a hot seller. The "Mamma Mia!" recording — which hit stores July 8 on the Decca label — is currently the seventh best-selling recording, according to Billboard. Variety also reported that the single CD has already sold 48,000 units.
Streep, in production notes, said she had seen Mamma Mia! on Broadway and was drawn to her role for its humanity and spirit as well as the music she would get to perform. About the latter she said, "The songs are timeless. They just enter your body. When I came to learn them, I found I knew every single one. They have amazing hooks and great melodies."
The Oscar-winning actress also spoke about the series of stunts she performs in the film, which include sliding down banisters and jumping off a jetty into the ocean. "I was told that I was going to climb up the goat house wall while singing 'Mamma Mia," Streep said. "I thought, 'How big could a goat house be?' The goat house turned out to be this sheer wall. I was basically doing a Spider-Man stunt, and I got in shape really quickly. It was the first week, and I thought, 'Whew! I better do my exercises every night.'"
Streep's co-star, Tony and Emmy winner Christine Baranski, said that "what holds this together so well is this marvelous story about deep relationships. One of the great challenges and pleasures for me — and Meryl and Julie [Walters] — was creating this sense of an old and textured friendship. It was easy to connect to Meryl and Julie — they are both awesome women. When they cast this film, they considered actors who would tap into what the filmmakers call 'the Mamma Mia! spirit,' which is an openness, a sense of fun and adventure."
In addition to Streep, the "Mamma Mia!" cast also features Pierce Brosnan, Amanda Seyfried, Colin Firth, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, Stellan Skarsgard and Dominic Cooper. The film was directed by Phyllida Lloyd, who is making her feature-film debut. Lloyd helmed both the London and Broadway mountings of Mamma Mia!
Using the catalogue of '70s pop group ABBA, Johnson's plot tells the story of bride-to-be Sophie Sheridan, who hopes to discover her father's identity on the eve of her wedding. She brings three men from her mother Donna's past back to the Greek island they last visited 20 years previously.
The show and film feature music and lyrics by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus. Since the original London production opened in 1999, the musical has grossed over $2 billion worldwide.
The film, according to the Universal Pictures website, is described as such: "An independent, single mother who owns a small hotel on an idyllic Greek island, Donna (Streep) is about to let go of Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), the spirited daughter she's raised alone. For Sophie's wedding, Donna has invited her two lifelong best girlfriends-practical and no-nonsense Rosie (Julie Walters) and wealthy, multi-divorcee Tanya (Christine Baranski)-from her one-time backing band, Donna and the Dynamos. But Sophie has secretly invited three guests of her own.
"On a quest to find the identity of her father to walk her down the aisle, she brings back three men from Donna's past to the Mediterranean paradise they visited 20 years earlier. Over 24 chaotic, magical hours, new love will bloom and old romances will be rekindled on this lush island full of possibilities."
To read interviews with Cooper and Lloyd, in Playbill.com's Stage to Screens column, Click Here.
Mamma Mia! continues to play to sell-out crowds at Broadway's Winter Garden Theatre.
For more information visit www.universalpictures.com.