The “‘Fury’ Tanks” headlines have been put on ice.
Brad Pitt’s World War II drama “Fury” will lead the U.S. box office without dominating with early projections portending an opening of as high as $25 million.
Sony’s tank tale, also starring Shia LaBeouf and Logan Lerman, should easily top “Gone Girl,” the closest contender with around $17 million to $18 million in its third weekend.
Audiences responded to a straight-ahead marketing campaign which emphasized Pitt starring as the leader of an American tank crew in Germany near the end of World War II. “Fury” is the name of the crew’s tank.
Early forecasts Friday gave “Fury” an estimated $8.8 million for its first day at 3,155 locations — far above the $5.4 million for “Gone Girl” in its 15th day.
The “Fury” figure included $1.2 million at late night shows Thursday at 2,489 locations, well above Sony’s recent adult-skewing movies “Captain Phillips” with $600,000 and “Monuments Men,” which drew $550,000 on its first night.
“Fury” has a $68 million price tag and was backed by Columbia Pictures in association with QED Intl. and LStar Capital. It’s directed by “End of Watch” helmer David Ayer and has opened with solid critical support with a 76% “fresh” rating on the Rotten Tomatoes aggregator site.
Fox’s third weekend of “Gone Girl” will decline about 34% as the Ben Affleck thriller continues to show impressive legs. After winning back-to-back weekends, it should take the second slot and wind up the weekend with around $107 million after 17 days.
Fox’s “The Book of Life,” an animated Day of the Dead adventure, should follow in third place at around $15 million to $17 million. It generated $300,000 at 2,150 locations on Thursday night with Friday forecasts of about $4.2 million at 3,069 locations.
The $50 million project, co-produced and co-financed by Reel FX and 20th Century Fox, has also received strong support of “Book” with a 75% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Relativity’s Nicholas Sparks-based romancer “The Best of Me” was battling for fourth with Disney’s holdover family comedy “Alexander and the Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” with both heading for somewhere between $11 million and $14 million.
“The Best of Me” took in $525,000 from Thursday night shows and was in line to take in $4.3 million on Friday in 2,936 theaters. The film carries a budget of $26 million, though Relativity has pegged its exposure at only $5 million.
Universal’s second weekend of “Dracula Untold” looked likely to finish sixth with about $10 million to $11 million.