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Best ever second weekend

"Black Panther" scored one of the best second weekends ever with an estimated $108 million in ticket sales, putting it on track to rank among the highest-grossing blockbusters ever.

Ryan Coogler's Marvel sensation is on a box-office course that few films have managed, according to studio estimates Sunday. It is only the fourth film to earn $100 million in its second weekend, along with "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" ($149.2 million), "Jurassic World" ($106.6 million) and "The Avengers" ($103.1 million).

Only "The Force Awakens" had a better second weekend than "Black Panther," which dropped 47 per cent after its opening weekend of $201.8 million.

"Black Panther" has grossed $400 million domestically and $704 million worldwide in two weeks. The film, starring Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan, has held even better overseas, where it dropped 42 per cent this weekend. Its release in China, the world's second-largest film market, is set for March 9.

"Whatever your projections for 'Black Panther' might be, just increase them by 20 per cent and you might be on point," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore. "Now the question isn't so much if it gets to $1 billion, but how far beyond that number does it go."

The results so far put it in the company of "Jurassic World," which ended up grossing $1.67 billion worldwide, and "The Avengers," which ultimately hauled in $1.52 billion. Both rank among the top five of all time, not accounting for inflation.

"Black Panther" is spurring a surge for the industry. The overall box office is up 12.5 per cent from last year, according to comScore.

And the movie is doing it with an especially diverse audience. This weekend's audience was 33 per cent African-American, 37 per cent Caucasian, 18 per cent Hispanic and 7 per cent Asian, according to comScore.

The film's success didn't appear to hurt the handful of new releases.

Faring the best was "Game Night," starring Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams, from Warner Bros.' New Line. The comedy, which cost about $37 million to make and was directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, debuted with $16.6 million, coming in slightly above forecasts.

Though comedies have struggled at the box office in recent years, "Game Night" got a modest boost from good reviews and perhaps from the waves of moviegoers brought in by "Black Panther."

"It's that whole 'a rising tide floats all boats,'" said Jeff Goldstein, distribution head for Warner Bros.

"The whole (comedy) genre is just really troubled," he added. "New Line is, I think, particularly good at teasing these movies out to be the best versions of them. They've had a lot of success in the past, whether it be 'Horrible Bosses' or 'Central Intelligence.'"

Alex Garland's sci-fi thriller "Annihilation," starring Natalie Portman, also debuted with some momentum thanks to strong reviews. It opened with $11 million on about 2,000 screens (or about half the number of "Black Panther").

Paramount earlier sold the film's international rights (except in China) to Netflix after disappointing reactions in test screenings. Opening weekend audiences largely responded similarly, giving the film a poor C CinemaScore.

It's not uncommon for studios to offload international rights to recoup their costs. But selling an ambitious film from Garland, writer-director of 2015's acclaimed "Ex Machina," to Netflix was seen by some as a sign of diminishing aspirations for a Hollywood major studio.

But Paramount has been behind some of the more artistically audacious releases in recent years, including Darren Aronofsky's "mother!," Alexander Payne's "Downsizing" and Martin Scorsese's "Silence."

"Annihilation," an unusually challenging and psychedelic sci-fi release for a major studio, cost about $40 million to produce. It's among the last releases green-lit by previous Paramount head Brad Grey. Jim Gianopulos took over as chief executive and chairman last year, and he is pushing a more franchise-focused agenda.

Kyle Davies, Paramount's domestic distribution chief, declined to comment on the Netflix deal but said he was pleased with the film's performance.

"Alex is a very talented filmmaker, and he's created this mind-bending experience," Davies said. "And I think there's going to be a lot of chatter and a lot of buzz that will propel the movie into the spring moviegoing season."

Also opening was the micro-budget young adult romance "Every Day," the first release from Metro Goldwyn Mayer's rebooted Orion Pictures. The film, which cost less than $5 million to make, debuted with $3.1 million in ticket sales.



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