Meanwhile, The Book of Life and The Best of Me are also opening nationwide.
Playing at 3,173 theaters, Fury stars Brad Pitt as the leader of an American tank crew making their way through Germany as the second World War draws to a close.
With the exception of 2012's Killing Them Softly—which was an odd, dark crime drama—Pitt has been on a strong run lately as a leading man. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Inglourious Basterds and World War Z all earned over $120 million at the domestic box office, while Moneyball was one of the highest-grossing baseball movies ever with $75.6 million.
World War II movies have a mixed track record, though the last few installments have done fairly well. Outside of Pitt's Basterds, the best comparison for Fury is fellow Sony release The Monuments Men. Even with weak reviews and a marketing effort that was light on action, the George Clooney movie still managed to open to $22 million earlier this year.
In contrast, Fury has stronger reviews (77 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and an action-packed marketing campaign. Previews include plenty of unique tank combat, while also clearly outlining the stakes by pitting Pitt and his crew against 300 German soldiers.
In the past few weeks, the marketing push has ramped up in to overdrive. That's included plenty of television ads, along with a decent publicity push from cast members; even the enigmatic Shia LaBeouf has been participating.
As a result of these efforts, Fury is currently out-selling The Monuments Men on Fandango. Even if it doesn't match recent adult-leaning thrillers Gone Girl and The Equalizer, Fury still seems poised for a strong debut in excess of $25 million this weekend.
Opening at 3,069 theaters this weekend, The Book of Life marks the second feature-length animated movie from Reel FX. The first was last November's Free Birds, which opened to $15.8 million on its way to $55.8 million total.
The Book of Life is set against the backdrop of the Day of the Dead celebration, and great pains seem to have been taken to honor the Mexican holiday (behind-the-scenes there's Mexican director Jorge R. Gutiérrez and producer Guillermo del Toro). The movie's unique visual style, strong voice cast (Channing Tatum, Zoe Saldana, Ice Cube and many more) and emphasis on humor and music should make it broadly appealing among family audiences of all ethnic backgrounds.
Still, animated movies that aren't from one of the big houses (Pixar, DreamWorks, Blue Sky, Illumination) tend to open below $20 million. Along with Free Birds, recent examples include The Nut Job ($19.4 million) and The Boxtrolls ($17.3 million). Distributor 20th Century Fox is expecting a number in the same general range (mid-to-high teens).
Continued with a look at 'The Best of Me,' 'Men, Women & Children' and 'Birdman,' along with official predictions >>
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