When Mamma Mia was released in film-form in 2008 it wasn’t exactly the most critically acclaimed output of the year, but for those who saw it for what it was – a great piece of feel-good musical fun – it became a DVD staple. Now, almost 10 years later, a sequel has been announced to the box-office hit, and whilst there is the expected mix of excitement and trepidation from fans, this sequel faces new and different challenges to the usual belated-sequel, mainly due to its source material.
The film was based on a stage musical that was, in turn, based on the music of ABBA. This is not general situation of most films that decide to do sequels many years after the release of the original. It presents unique obstacles to overcome both in terms of the story having more protective fans and finding the right music.
As a musical purely featuring songs from one pop group, this presents another problem. Most of the best-known ABBA songs were in the first film, and this one has promised to deliver no repeats. One of Mamma Mia’s strengths is its sing-along quality combined with the joys of watching some of your favourite songs being covered brilliantly and almost murdered in equal measure. The presence of less known songs will take away the sing-along factor for many, potentially reducing one of the most fun aspects.
The existence of the Mamma Mia story in many forms also provides an added challenge; the story is so well known and any alteration or continuation of it could impact on more than just the 2008 film. There are more fans to try and satisfy and more mediums that story-additions will affect.
All of this mounts to more pressure to really get this sequel right, so hopefully they’ll pull it off. One of the things they’ve already done better than most sequels is have a title that isn’t just the original with the number ‘2’ stuck on the end. Granted it was already set up for it in the song lyrics, but it gives an indication of their intention to make the sequel in the same fun vein as the first film.