Fury flattened all other movies in wide release and is projected to take in around $23 million in its debut weekend in theaters. The Brad Pitt-starring World War II action-drama, set largely within the cramped confines of an M4 Sherman tank rolling across Nazi Germany, comes in at the lower end of pre-release audience tracking expectations. But it caps off a recent run of cinematic success for Pitt (a producer of the multiple Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave and star of last year’s sci-fi disaster hit World War Z). Fury also features Michael Peña, Shia LaBeouf, Jon Bernthal, and Logan Lerman as a shell-shocked army crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines.
“The relationship and camaraderie of the cast is really poignant in the film, which is also very visceral and action packed,” said Rory Bruer, president of worldwide distribution for Sony, the studio behind Fury. “We’re feeling really good about it. It’s a very good opening for us and it’s a movie that we’re so proud to be a part of.”
Director David Fincher’s venomous adaptation of Gone Girl slipped to No. 2 in its third week in theaters (passing the $100 million mark domestically in the process with a projected take near $18 million). While producer Guillermo Del Toro’s mythic animated adventure The Book of Life claimed the third box office spot, estimated to earn around $17 million in its first weekend.
The Best of Me, an adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ 2011 novel starring James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan, fared worst of the new films in wide release. The romantic drama fizzled with critics and appears to be on track for a $10 million opening, on the low end of the spectrum of such bankable Sparks movie adaptations as The Notebook and 2010’s Dear John.
In limited release, director Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Birdman took flight in just four theaters, hauling in an impressive $415,000 to become one of the biggest specialty film debuts of the year. The industry-skewering dramedy features Michael Keaton as a washed-up superhero movie star attempting to mount his comeback as a Serious Actor on Broadway (the movie expands into 18 new markets next weekend). Writer-director Jason Reitman’s Men, Women and Children continued to struggle in its transition to wide release. The ensemble Information Age drama—whose cast includes Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner, and Ansel Elgort—is expected to pull in just over $300,000 after platforming into 608 theaters this weekend.
1. Fury – $23.5 million
2. Gone Girl – $17.8 million
3. The Book of Life – $17 million
4. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day – $12 million
5. The Best of Me — $10.2 million
(Additional reporting for this blog post by Lindsey Bahr.)