Box Office: Brad Pitt’s ‘Fury’ Opens to $8.8 Million, Shooting for $25 Million

Brad Pitt’s World War II drama “Fury” is ruling the battlefield.

Fury” opened to No. 1 at the U.S. box office on Friday — ahead of two-time champ “Gone Girl” and newcomer “The Book of Life” — with $8.8 million. This includes $1.2 million from Thursday night showings. The tank tale looks to haul $25 million in its debut weekend.

Pitt stars as an army sergeant who commands a Sherman tank and a five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines in Germany during the end of WWII. This is a record opening for director David Ayer, who wrote and directed 2012’s “End of Watch” and scripted “Training Day.” The movie also stars Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman and Michael Peña.

Aside from Pitt’s star power, the $68 million production — backed by Columbia Pictures in association with QED Intl. and LStar Capital — has the critics on its side, earning 80% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Pitt’s other WWII pic — of the revenge fantasy variety — launched to $38 million in 2009. The Quentin Tarantino-directed hit “Inglourious Basterds” went on to reel in $321.5 million worldwide.

Gone Girl” took in $5.6 million on Friday, slipping to second place after topping the box office for two consecutive weekends. However, the Fox marital thriller will likely fall to third by Sunday as it’s in a neck-and-neck race with another Fox film, “The Book of Life.”

The pic is headed for an estimated $17.5 million in its third weekend, raising its cume to a stellar $107 million.

The Ben Affleck starrer is showing impressive staying power. If estimates hold, it will decline about 34%.

Newcomer “The Book of Life” came in third, launching to $5 million Stateside on Friday. The animated Day of the Dead — a Mexican holiday that’s celebrated from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 — film is shooting for $18 million this weekend.

Channing Tatum, Zoe Saldana and Diego Luna voice the $50 million project, co-produced and co-financed by Fox and Reel FX. The movie has a 79% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

“The Best of Me” landed in fourth place on Friday, but will likely relinquish that slot to “Alexander and the Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” come weekend’s end.

Adapted from the Nicholas Sparks bestseller of the same name, the Relativity tearjerker earned $4.1 million on Friday on pace for an $11 million to $12 million opening. The pic stars James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan as high school sweethearts who are reunited after 20 years.

The pic’s production budget was $26 million, but due to foreign and ancillary pre-sales and tax credits, Relativity said that its exposure is only $5 million.

“The Best of Me” has been panned by critics, receiving a 7% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but was well received by audiences, who gave it a B+ CinemaScore.

“Alexander” rounded out the top five on Friday, but should be fourth by Sunday. Disney’s family comedy made $3.2 million in its second weekend.

It stands to gross an estimated $13.5 million this weekend, a 27% decline, that would raise its cume to $38 million.

Meanwhile, Fox Searchlight-New Regency’s “Birdman” is making waves at the specialty box office. The much-buzzed-about early Oscar contender is flying toward the best theater average of the year after “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” “Birdman” will likely make an estimated $475,000 from four theaters in New York City and Los Angeles — a location average of $118,651.

Directed by Alejandro G. Inarritu, the dark comedy stars Michael Keaton as a has-been movie star trying to make a comeback with a Broadway play.

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