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'Black Panther' to swat away debut titles 'Game Night' and 'Annihilation'

At this weekend's box office, two critically acclaimed titles will debut in the dark shadow of "Black Panther," which is recording another supernatural success for Walt Disney Co.'s Marvel.

The Marvel movie continues to out maneuver records as it stalks its way through theaters, collecting about $242 million domestically through Feb. 19, according to Variety. Forecasts for its second weekend expect the film to bring in over $100 million, a rare feat, particularly in February. BoxOffice.com, for instance, believes "Black Panther" will add $107 million more for the weekend, launching it to a domestic total of $353.5 million, which could slash the prospects of new entrant "Game Night."

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"Annihilation"
Source: Paramount Pictures

Yet that film, a murder-mystery comedy starring Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams being distributed by Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros., is not suffering from lack of acclaim, running at a solid 85% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, as of 8:45 a.m. ET on Feb. 23.

BoxOffice.com predicts the debut to deliver $16 million over the Feb. 23 weekend. Variety is a bit more bullish, with a broad range of $13 million to $20 million projected for the film. Deadline Hollywood expands that even further with a range of $13 million to $21 million.

Looking at the comparisons, Warner Bros. may be banking on the top end, depending on the film's budget. Titles like "Horrible Bosses" and "Date Night" opened to over $25 million and managed to cut positive profits by the time they exited theaters. Other comedies like "Sex Tape," "Bad Words" and "Rough Night" opened below $15 million and each left theaters in the red. Looking at a list of comparisons compiled by Kagan, the average opening gross was $15.7 million leading to an average profit loss of $1.7 million.

Prognosticators, meanwhile, are putting another debut, Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures sci-fi thriller "Annihilation," behind "Game Night." BoxOffice.com forecasts an opening weekend gross of $10 million, at the lower end of Variety's $9 million to $12 million range and Deadline's $10 million to $12 million range.

Like "Game Night," "Annihilation" was winning over its critics, running a 90% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes at the same time.

In a list of Kagan comparisons, including titles like "The Maze Runner," "Divergent" and "The Dark Tower," the average opening gross was $39.9 million, leading to average profits of $70.2 million. "The Dark Tower" saw the lowest opening in the group at $19.2 million, which led to a $69.4 million loss by the time it exited theaters, but it had a production cost about $20 million more than "Annihilation's" $40 million investment. "The Maze Runner" had a similar budget, but it opened to $32.5 million, exiting with $202.5 million in profits.

Lastly, another debut from Orion Pictures, romance "Every Day," has not been well received, running a "rotten" score of 53% on Rotten Tomatoes at the same time. Forecasters generally put opening expectations between $2 million and $4 million. A list of low-budget romance comparisons compiled by Kagan shows an average profit of $33.9 million, but against an opening weekend gross of $18.5 million. "Before I Fall" was the only title in the list to open below $5 million, and it went on to a $24.7 million loss.

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