As the highest-grossing film of all time in this country, it was inevitable that Mamma Mia! would excite hopes of an equally lucrative sequel. Mandrake can disclose that Björn Ulvaeus, who co-wrote the Abba songs on which the musical is based, is, however, involved in an extremely awkward dispute with his fellow producers over whether such a film should be made.
"It wouldn’t work," the Swedish musician told me bluntly at a party at the Café de Paris to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the hit West End show that inspired the film. "I don’t think we would do a sequel. We have moved on to other projects now."
Ulvaeus is understood to feel that a follow-up "would be made for all the wrong reasons". A friend of the 63-year-old songwriter claims that he believes such a film would be produced only to add to the £434 million that the original has made around the world and would have no artistic justification.
He says that all the most popular songs have been used in Mamma Mia! and he is more interested in his other projects," says his pal.
Executives at Universal, the Hollywood studio, are said to be "desperate" for a sequel and Judy Craymer, one of the film’s six producers, says she is determined to persuade Ulvaeus and his fellow Abba songwriter, Benny Andersson, who composed additional music for the film, to give the go-ahead. "I am sure that Benny and Björn would do a sequel," she told me at the party in Soho. "I’m not sure they would want to wait as long, though, to make another one. We would all be 95 in that case."
She added: "It would only be for film, not a musical. Of course, who else could you want for the main part but Meryl Streep?"
Catherine Johnson, the film’s screenwriter, is also keen to repeat her success. "I would certainly be open to writing another," she told me. The pair seem to be hoping that Andersson, 62, who is more receptive to the idea, might be able to persuade his close friend to agree. "It might well work," Andersson said of the sequel.
Meryl Streep, who played Donna Sheridan, a single mother, has said she is eager to appear. "Grand Mamma Mia!" she joked. "I like it! Oh, I’m up for it – as long as you can get those fabulous boys back." Those "fabulous boys" are, of course, her dashing co-stars Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård and Dominic Cooper.