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Box office preview: 'Fury' storms into theaters

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Fury
Everett Collection

Gone Girl may have had a cozy two weeks at the top of the box office, but there’s a new contender in town: Fury. Brad Pitt stars in the David Ayer-directed WWII pic that’s expected to march to the top spot by the weekend’s close, in spite of the crowded adult-targeted market.

The Guillermo del Toro-produced animated pic The Book of Life hits theaters this weekend, too, as does the weepy Nicolas Sparks adaptation The Best of Me. Jason Reitman’s Men, Women, and Children also expands nationwide after two uninspiring weeks in limited release.

Here’s how things might play out.

1. Fury $25 million

Columbia Pictures is rolling out Fury in 3,155 locations this weekend. The $68 million pic from writer-director David Ayer stars Brad Pitt as Wardaddy, a hardened army sergeant making a final push in the European Theatre in 1945. The ensemble cast includes Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena, and Jon Bernthal and, so far, reviews are solid, with a 76 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. According to Fandango, Fury is outselling Monuments Men which had a $22 million opening. Tracking suggests it could open similarly to Captain Phillips, which earned $25.7 million in Oct. 2013.

2. Gone Girl — $18 million

Interest is still quite strong for Fox’s Gone Girl, which has made over $161.5 million worldwide. It fell only 29 percent in weekend two and may see a similar drop as it enters its third weekend in theaters.

3. The Book of Life — $16 million

Guillermo del Toro produced this animated fantasy adventure featuring the voices of Diego Luna, Zoë Saldana, and Channing Tatum. Fox is distributing the $50 million pic (a co-production between Fox Animation and ReelFX), which debuts in 3,069 locations. Tracking puts its opening in the $15-$17 million range. Reviews are solid (70 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and EW’s Marc Snetiker gave it an A-. He wrote: “Overflowing with hyperactive charm and a spectacular sea of colors, it showcases some of the most breathtaking animation we’ve seen this decade.” Family audiences will be divided between this and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, which is only in weekend two.

4. The Best of Me $12 million

Michelle Monaghan and James Marsden star as high school sweethearts reunited after 20 years apart in this Michael Hoffman-directed adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ bestseller. Relativity is going against the formula with their latest Sparks adaptation by releasing it in October. Both Safe Haven and Dear John opened in February, around or on Valentine’s Day, which proved rather effective. Safe Haven opened to $21.4 million and Dear John to $30.5 million. The Best of Me looks like it will not fare so well, even as counter programming to the dark, adult-themed fare in theaters now, with industry and analysts predicting an opening around $12 million. Still, produced for $26 million, tax credits and pre-sales helped winnow down Relativity’s contribution to around $5 million in the end, so this is a pretty low-risk investment for Relativity.

5. Dracula Untold $11 million

Universal and Legendary’s Dracula origin story smashed expectations when it opened to $23.5 million last weekend, but is probably poised for a 50+ percent fall in weekend two. The $72 million pic has made over $92 million worldwide.

There are a handful of exciting limited release openings including Birdman, which Fox Searchlight is rolling out to four theaters, Dear White People, opening in 11 locations from Roadside Attractions, and Listen Up Philip from Tribeca.

Finally, in landmarks, Guardians of the Galaxy has surpassed $700 million worldwide, thanks to a boost from its $29.8 million opening in China last weekend. It’s the third Disney release of 2014 to earn this gargantuan sum and the fourth Marvel Cinematic Universe pic to do so.

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