Box Office: Brad Pitt's 'Fury' Guns Down $8.8M Friday; 'Birdman' Soars

Fury Still 2 - H 2014
Giles Keyte

Fury Still 2 - H 2014

Elsewhere, the Guillermo del Toro-produced 'Book of Life' is in a dead heat for No. 2 with 'Gone Girl,' which jumps the $100 million mark Saturday

Marking another victory for star Brad Pitt, director David Ayer's Fury will win this weekend's North American box-office battle with an estimated $25 million after topping Friday's chart with $8.8 million. The World War II tank drama, nabbing an A- CinemaScore, launches two months before Pitt's wife, Angelina Jolie, opens her own WWII epic, Unbroken.

Sony, QED International and LStar Capital spent $68 million to make Fury, featuring 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).

Fury, also starring Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena, Jon Bernthal, Jason Isaacs and Scott Eastwood, is playing in 3,155 theaters.

Read more Brad Pitt to Toast Veterans at 'Fury' Washington Premiere

New family-friendly entry The Book of Life, produced by Guillermo del Toro, is finding itself in a close race for No. 2 with fellow Fox title Gone Girl. Both films are aiming to take in roughly $18 million for the weekend.

Gone Girl continues to enjoy a stellar hold in its third outing, and will jump the $100 million mark today in North America as it races toward becoming David Fincher's top-grossing film of all time domestically.

Fox Animation and ReelFX co-produced the $50 million Book of Life, voiced by Channing Tatum, Christina Applegate, Ice Cube, Hector Elizondo, Diego Luna and Zoe Saldana. The pic, set around the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead, grossed $5 million Friday from 3,069 locations after likewise earning an A- CinemaScore.

Read more Trailer for Guillermo del Toro's 'Book of Life' Teases Magic and Love After Death (Video)

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. Best of Me placed No. 3 Friday with $4.1 million from 2,936 locations for a projected $11 million-plus weekend, potentially the lowest opening for a Sparks adaptation. It earned a B+ CinemaScore.

Relativity partnered on the $25 million film with DiNovi Pictures and Nicholas Sparks Production, and offset much of its risk by selling off rights internationally. Best of Me could fall to No. 4 for the weekend behind Disney's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

Read more New York Film Fest: 'Birdman' Cast on Superheroes, Theater and How "Being a Celebrity Is S—"

Alejandro G. Inarritu's dark comedy Birdman is making headlines at the specialty box office, where it's on course to score the best theater average of the year so far after The Grand Budapest Hotel in a victory for the filmmaker, Fox Searchlight, New Regency and Michael Keaton, who stars as a washed-up superhero-movie star who tries to reclaim his career by staging a play on Broadway.

Birdman is projected to gross $410,000 from four theaters in New York and Los Angeles for a location average of $102,500. The awards contender also stars Edward Norton, Naomi Watts and Emma Stone.