Box-Office Preview: Brad Pitt's 'Fury' Set to Demolish Competition With Likely $25M Opening

Guillermo del Toro's 'Book of Life' and the Nicholas Sparks adaptation 'The Best of Me' also open nationwide; 'Birdman' launches in New York and Los Angeles

Director David Ayer's Fury is expected to win the North American box-office race ahead of Gone Girl this weekend thanks to older males interested in seeing the World War II tank drama, starring Brad Pitt opposite Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman and Michael Pena. Older women also could show up, thanks to Pitt.

Prerelease tracking suggests Fury will open in the $25 million range, a solid start for Sony, QED International and LStar Capital. The $68 million drama, also starring Jon Bernthal, Jason Isaacs and Scott Eastwood, launches in 3,155 theaters.

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Fury's tracking is comparable to last year's adult drama Captain Phillips, which debuted to $25.7 million. Other comparisons include George Clooney's Monuments Men, the Nazi drama that opened to $22 million earlier this year. Fury doesn't seem destined to match the $38 million launch of Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, also starring Pitt.

Set in 1945, as the Allied Forces make their final push, Fury features Pitt as a battle-hardened Army sergeant in command of a Sherman tank and her five-man crew as they attempt to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany (Sony is aggressively marketing the film to veterans).

David Fincher's Gone Girl, which has been atop the box office the past two weekends, will certainly be no slouch in its third session and could come in No. 2, depending upon how fellow Fox animated title The Book of Life opens. Gone Girl fell a scant 29 percent last weekend, and has grossed north of $84 million through Tuesday, meaning it will jump the $100 million mark domestically sometime this weekend.

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Produced by Guillermo del Toro and directed by Jorge R. Gutierrez, Book of Life is tracking to bow in the mid- to high-teens and should do especially well in Hispanic markets. Fox Animation and ReelFX co-produced the $50 million family film, which features the voices of Channing Tatum, Christina Applegate, Ice Cube, Hector Elizondo, Diego Luna and Zoe Saldana. The pic, set around the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead, plays in 3,069 locations.

The weekend's third new nationwide offering is romancer The Best of Me, the latest adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel, starring Michelle Monaghan, James Marsden, Luke Bracey, Liana Liberato and Gerald McRaney. Tracking suggests the movie will open in the $12 million-$14 million range, on par with Sparks adaptations Nights in Rodanthe (2008) and A Walk to Remember (2002).

Relativity Media partnered on the $25 million pic with Di Novi Pictures and Sparks (Relativity offset much of its risk by selling off the film internationally).

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The specialty box office will see the debut of Alejandro G. Inarritu's dark comedy Birdman, starring Michael Keaton as a washed-up superhero-movie star who tries to reclaim his career by staging a play on Broadway. Edward Norton, Naomi Watts and Emma Stone also star. Fox Searchlight and New Regency are opening the movie in New York and Los Angeles.

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