Film News

Why Did It Take Hollywood a Decade to Make a Sequel to One of the Most Successful Musicals of All Time?

I don’t know if you’ve heard by now, but Hollywood kind of likes making sequels. In fact, 2018 is currently on pace to have more sequels released into theaters than any year over the past decade. Obscure horror movies, cult comedies, quirky animation, underperforming action movies, beloved and widely-known superhero movies – you name it, Hollywood’s made a sequel to it in 2018. Like any other kind of movie, some of these have flopped, others have soared, and yet others have landed somewhere in-between at the box office.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is thus far in the “soared” category. After 10 days of release, it is outperforming its predecessor, injecting a healthy dose of estrogen into the summer box office’s steady diet of testosterone and delighting WMiF’s Julianne, who argues Here Go Again is quite possibly better than its predecessor. However, one of the maddening parts of all this is just how insanely long it took for Hollywood to finally make a Mamma Mia! 2. The first film came out 10 years ago – 10 years! – and all it did was make more money than any other live action musical in history, at least until the Beauty and the Beast remake:

Yet, we’ve had to wait all this time for a sequel. In that same exact timespan, Marvel Studios released 20 different superhero movies.

But, wait, there’s more.

Since the release of the first Mamma Mia!, Hollywood has gone through two different Spider-Man actors, two different Batman actors, two failed Terminator revivals, over 10 different failed YA franchises, two different Final Destinations sequels claiming to be the actual final Final Destination movie, the entirety of the Kung Fu Panda, Paranormal Activity, Twilight, Taken, rebooted Star Trek, Hangover, Hunger Games, and Fifty Shades of Grey franchises, and multiple failed cinematic universes as well as the regrettable post-Avatar 3D craze. You mean to tell me in all of that time they couldn’t be bothered to crank out a sequel to one of the most successful musicals in film history?

What about the cautionary tale of Grease 2? – Like a failed sequel in the past would really stop Hollywood from trying it again in the future. Also, some people actually prefer Grease 2 to the original.

But Mamma Mia! is based on a Broadway musical and to make a sequel would mean coming up with an entirely new story instead fo just adapting something from the stage? – Isn’t that why you hire screenwriters? Plus, isn’t the storyline obvious – show us how exactly Streep’s character met those three chaps in the first place.

Didn’t the first film used up all the best ABBA songs? – Most recognizable, sure, but you’re working with a pretty deep catalog there. The first Mamma Mia! didn’t completely tap that well dry.

Any other excuses? Come on, they made a Hot Tub Time Machine 2 before they made a Mamma Mia! 2!

Actually, it’s not quite as simple as all that. You can’t just blame Hollywood sexism here.

According to a recent Yahoo report – and, yes, Yahoo is still a thing…apparently – the studio was ready to move forward on a sequel almost immediately: “As early as the fall of 2008, just months after the first film’s release, Universal co-chairman David Linde was telling press he wanted to bring the band back together for another installment.”

But, as with many a challenging band reunion, there was one member of the group who could make or break the deal. In this case, without Meryl Streep there would be no reunion, and she just wasn’t interested. A sequel full of ABBA songs could be fun, but the first film was Streep’s coming out party as a singer. She’s since done Into the Woods and Ricki and the Flash, but in its day Mamma Mia! was largely sold on the have-to-see-it-to-believe-it spectacle of one of history’s greatest actors dancing and singing fluffy pop songs. Moreover, her character forms the heart of the story. Hell, she’s the “Mamma” in “Mamma Mia.” How can you do a sequel without her?

You can’t, but sadly, much like Denzel Washington, she had a rule against ever doing sequels. It’s a rule she eventually broke, obviously, agreeing to a significantly reduced role in Here Wo Go Again. It just took the producers a decade to get her to say yes.

It’s sheer coincidence Streep’s first sequel arrived in the same weekend as Denzel’s first sequel, The Equalizer 2.

Here’s original Mamma Mia! creator Judy Craymer, who first thought up the musical in the 80s and has remained involved as a producer for every iteration across stage and screen, on the process of convincing Streep: “She’s the most lauded actress and the most extraordinary actress in the world so she doesn’t do sequels, so to speak. I think it was like, what would she be doing in there? And it had to be something really interesting. She gave 295% of her energy on the last film and I don’t think she wanted to be running around cliff tops singing a bunch of ABBA songs if it wasn’t interesting.”

The turning point came when Craymer turned to Love, Actually’s Richard Curtis to come up with a story idea. It was his unique bit of inspiration to use The Godfather II as a story guide for a flashback structure contrasting the child (Amanda Seyfried’s returning Sophie) and parent’s experiences when they’re roughly the same age that cracked it. By flashing back to the younger version of Streep’s character – ultimately played by Lily James – and exploring exactly how she met the three men from the first film, they could continue the story without overly burdening Streep.

Here’s how the Here We Go Again cast reacted to Streep’s general absence

Not everyone was on board with this, though. Neither the first film’s director (Phyllida Lloyd) nor its writer (Catherine Johnson) agreed to return to see it through. Ol Parker, a friend of Curtis’ and well-established with his won Best Exotic Marigold Hotel movies, stepped in to direct. Once they finally got Streep to agree to return and sing two ABBA songs they had the green light from the studio and a 44% increase on their production budget from the first film.

Now, the hope is Here We Go Again will have enough legs at the box office to warrant a third film. If so, they won’t wait another decade to make it. “I know it would have to be done much faster,” Craymer laughed, because otherwise, “we’ll be quite old.”

Source: Yahoo

Every Direct Sequel Released Into Theaters Since the First Mamma Mia! Came Out

  • 22 Jump Street
  • 300: Rise of an Empire
  • A Bad Mom’s Christmas
  • A Good Day to Die Hard
  • A Haunted House 2
  • A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas
  • An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
  • Alien: Covenant
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip
  • Anchorman 2
  • Angels & Demons
  • Annabelle: Creation
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp
  • Avengers
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Bad Santa 2
  • Barbershop: The Next Cut
  • Batman v Superman
  • Justice League
  • Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son
  • Blade Runner: 2049
  • Bridget Jones’s Baby
  • Captain America: Winter Soldier
  • Captain America: Civil War
  • Cars 2
  • Cars 3
  • Planes: Fire and Rescue
  • Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore
  • Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
  • Creed
  • Daddy’s Home 2
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  • War for the Planet of the Apes
  • Deadpool 2
  • Despicable Me 2
  • Minions
  • Despicable Me 3
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
  • Divergent: Insurgent
  • Divergent: Allegiant
  • Dolphin Tale 2
  • Dumb and Dumber To
  • Fast Five
  • Fast & Furious 6
  • Furious 7
  • The Fate of the Furious
  • Fifty Shades Darker
  • Fifty Shades Freed
  • The Final Destination
  • Final Destination 5
  • Finding Dory
  • Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
  • G.I. Joe: Retaliation
  • God’s Not Dead 2
  • God’s Not Dead: A Light in the Darkness
  • Grown Ups 2
  • Guardians of the Galaxy 2
  • Halloween 2
  • Happy Feet 2
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
  • High School Musical 3: Senior Year
  • Hitman: Agent 47
  • Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil
  • Horrible Bosses 2
  • Hot Tub Time Machine 2
  • Hotel Transylvania 2
  • Hotel Transylvania 3
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2
  • Hunger Games: Catching Fire
  • Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
  • Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
  • Incredibles 2
  • Independence Day 2
  • Insidious Chapter 2
  • Insidious Chapter 3
  • Insidious: The Last Key
  • Iron Man 2
  • Iron Man 3
  • Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
  • Ice Age: Collision Course
  • Ice Age: Continental Drift
  • Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
  • Jackass 3-D
  • John Wick: Chapter 2
  • Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
  • Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
  • Jurassic World
  • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
  • Kick-Ass 2
  • Kingsman: The Golden Circle
  • Kung Fu Panda 2
  • Kung Fu Panda 3
  • Little Fockers
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
  • Madagascar 3
  • Penguins of Madagascar
  • Magic Mike XXL
  • Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
  • Maze Runner: The Death Cure
  • MIB3
  • Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
  • Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
  • Mission: Impossible – Fallout
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
  • Neighbors 2
  • Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
  • Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
  • Now You See Me 2
  • Ocean’s 8
  • Pacific Rim Uprising
  • Paddington 2
  • Paranormal Activity 2
  • Paranormal Activity 3
  • Paranormal Activity 4
  • Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones
  • Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension
  • Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
  • Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
  • Pitch Perfect 2
  • Pitch Perfect 3
  • Predators
  • Punisher: War Zone
  • Quantum of Solace
  • Skyfall
  • Spectre
  • Red 2
  • Resident Evil: Afterlife
  • Resident Evil: Retribution
  • Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
  • Ride Along 2
  • Rio 2
  • Saw V
  • Saw VI
  • Saw 3D
  • Jigsaw
  • Scary Movie 5
  • Scream 4
  • Sex and the City 2
  • Sherlock Gnomes
  • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
  • Shrek: Forever After
  • Sicario: Day of the Soldado
  • Sin City 2
  • Sinister 2
  • Silent Hill: Revelations 3D
  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming
  • Spy Kids: All the Time in the World
  • Star Trek Into Darkness
  • Star Trek Beyond
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • Step Up 3D
  • Step Up: Revolution
  • Strangers: Prey at Night
  • Super Troopers 2
  • T2: Trainspotting
  • Taken 2
  • Taken 3
  • Ted 2
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
  • Terminator: Salvation
  • Terminator: Genisys
  • Texas Chainsaw 3D
  • The Best Man Holiday
  • The Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day
  • The Bourne Legacy
  • Jason Bourne
  • The Conjuring 2
  • The Dark Knight Rises
  • The Equalizer 2
  • The Expendables 2
  • The Expendables 3
  • The Hangover Part II
  • The Hangover Part III
  • The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
  • The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies
  • The Huntsman: Winter’s War
  • The Last Exorcism Part II
  • The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
  • The Muppets Most Wanted
  • The Nut Job 2
  • The Pink Panther 2
  • The Purge: Anarchy
  • The Purge: Election Year
  • The First Purge
  • The Raid 2
  • The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  • The Smurfs 2
  • The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water
  • The Transporter Refueled
  • The Trip to Italy
  • The Woman in Black 2
  • The X-Files: I Want to Believe
  • Think Like a Man Too
  • Thor: The Dark World
  • Thor: Ragnarok
  • Toy Story 3
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon
  • Transformers: Age of Extinction
  • Transformers: The Last Knight
  • Transporter 3
  • Tron: Legacy
  • Twilight: New Moon
  • Twilight: Eclipse
  • Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1
  • Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2
  • Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail
  • Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too
  • Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween
  • Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
  • Underworld: Awakening
  • Unfriended: Dark Web
  • Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
  • Wolverine
  • Logan
  • Wrath of the Titans
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past
  • X-Men: Apocalypse
  • xXx: The Return of Xander Cage
  • Zoolander 2

And, finally, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again


  1. Was it really just Streep? I mean, to me the important part of an adaptation is to have the two “B” of ABBA in the team. It can’t be an accident that the sequel gets released the very same year ABBA has announced new songs for.

  2. Interesting although this list excludes straight to video or tv movie sequels. Speaking of which cant wait for sharknado 6 to come out when are you going to review the sharknado series kk? What we the audience really need is a third joker movie starring mark hamil and more on par woth the 60s caped crusader adventures to add to the two already in the pipeline. Or wheel in jack nicholson from retirement to do an old joker. Joel schumacher can direct.

    1. The list would be more interesting if it had different colours to represent flops, successes etc

      I don’t think anyone needs to watch any of the Sharknado films. They are just genuinely terrible and not unintentionally terribly hilarious.

      1. “The list would be more interesting if it had different colours to represent flops, successes etc”

        You’re not wrong, but the point of the list wasn’t to rehash the failures and success stories of all sequels over the past decade but instead to simply shame Hollywood through the sheer exhaustive listing of every damn sequel that got made before Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. A follow-up piece analyzing the failures and success would be interesting as it would break down what’s worked and what hasn’t, but it’s secondary to what I was going for.

        Incidentally, I have since replaced the original list – which was ordered according to release date – with an alphabetized one for quicker/easier reading.

        “I don’t think anyone needs to watch any of the Sharknado films. They are just genuinely terrible and not unintentionally terribly hilarious.”

        I have the sense that even the Sharknado fans have tired of the films by now, but I’d have to check the ratings to verify.

    2. “Interesting although this list excludes straight to video or tv movie sequels. ”

      I had to draw the line somewhere. You could also add in the number of movies which now have their own TV shows, like Mortal Instruments, Puss N Boots, Boss Baby, How to Train Your Dragon, etc. I stopped short of all that because there is still a set cost attached to releasing something in theaters which far exceeds simply going straight to video or to Netflix. Last estimate I heard is even the smallest of small movies is looking at a minimal marketing spend in the $30m territory. So, to actually go in theaters is a much bigger and riskier investment.

      “Speaking of which can’t wait for sharknado 6 to come out when are you going to review the sharknado series kk?”

      I’ve only ever seen the first Sharknado, and it wasn’t for me. It’s a tricky thing, that whole “so bad it’s good” act. When you actually do it intentionally it’s just not as fun [Piranha 3D is one notable exception]. That being said, I did recently see the trailer for the new Sharknado and the punny title playing on time travel did get a laugh out of me.

      1. Fair point re rules for counting sequels and yes lots of tv spin offs. What about 80s reboots and sequels. Lethal weapon. Charlies angels. Umm fraiser? Re sharknados they do get better. Or worse lol. Try sharknado 2 if not convinced. The first one os a bit poor.

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