It was the fourth straight weekend where an R-rated drama took the box office crown, as the World War II thriller Fury earned an estimated $23.5 million. This marked a solid opening for star Brad Pitt and was slightly higher than similar star-studded war titles The Monuments Men ($22 million) and Valkyrie ($21 million over the weekend, after a Thursday Christmas Day opening). As for Pitt, it was a better debut than Moneyball ($19.5 million); however, it was noticeably behind the opening of another war film starring the actor as the leader of a group of soldiers, Inglourious Basterds ($38 million).
Moving forward, Fury is likely to continue bringing in good money. There is little competition for adults in the coming weeks, with the exception of expanding independent titles like Birdman and St. Vincent, and the A- CinemaScore means audiences are liking what they see. The film saw only a 3% jump from Friday to Saturday, though, meaning it may have been a bit front-loaded. However, if The Monuments Men can make it to a $78 million total domestically, than that number definitely seems attainable for Fury.
Meanwhile, Pitt’s frequent collaborator, David Fincher, had his R-rated thriller finish in second place. Gone Girl had a strong hold in its third weekend of release, dropping 33% to make $17.8 million. With $107.1 million in the bank so far (and more in its coffers from impressive worldwide grosses), Gone Girl surpassed the totals of four of the director’s films’ this weekend – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Seven, The Social Network and Panic Room. It is virtually guaranteed to surpass the final of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ($127.5 million) to become the director’s biggest hit yet. A total in the neighborhood of $150 million seems likely.
Opening to solid results in third place was the 3D animated film The Book of Life, which earned $17 million. That is slightly below fellow family-aimed fall releases The Boxtrolls ($17.3 million) and Alexander… ($18.4 million). Produced by Guillermo Del Toro, The Book of Life‘s colorful costumes and visuals, as well as its blend of comedy and fantasy, proved to be a worthwhile option for audiences getting in the mood for Halloween. A bit worrying is the 38% leap on Saturday from Friday. Usually, films aimed at younger audiences will bounce higher over the weekend. The Book of Life did earn an A- CinemaScore and will try to hold better than The Boxtrolls, which is already out of the Top 10. Its main competition will come in three weeks, when Disney releases Big Hero 6.
Even with a strong opening from The Book of Life, that film had little effect on Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Dropping just 34% to take in $12 million, the Disney comedy has made $36.9 million so far and is on its way to a total around $60 million. (Or, around 60 times the likely total of Jennifer Garner’s other October release, Men, Women & Children.) The Steve Carell-starrer continues to be a solid choice for families uninterested in the Spanish flavor of Del Toro’s fantasy.