Fury Advances; Affleck’s Girl Gone From Top Spot
By John Hamann
October 19, 2014
It’s time to do the A-list shuffle, as Brad Pitt’s Fury has usurped Ben Affleck’s Gone Girl from the #1 position at the box office after two weekends on top.
After a tough August and September at the box office where the only highlight was Guardians of the Galaxy, October has bounced back, dominating last year’s totals. The credit for this success goes to something that the media thought was long since dead – the movie star – as films from Ben Affleck, Brad Pitt, Denzel Washington and Robert Downey Jr. are propping up the October box office, and pushing this year’s October totals up versus last year to the tune of about $80 million over only the first three weekends. Bad news is coming, though, as Halloween falls on a Friday this year, and usually decimates the box office. New releases this weekend include Fury, the tank drama with Mr. Jolie; The Book of Life, the animated film from producer Guillermo del Toro; and The Best of Me, a Sparksian romantic drama that I understand could be the next big drinking game.
Number one at the box office this weekend is Fury, the film that deposits Brad Pitt back into World War II Germany, the same place where we enjoyed him so much in Inglourious Basterds. Fury is no Quentin Tarantino revenge fantasy. It is a gritty real-lifer from David Ayer, who also did the gritty real-lifer End of Watch, which swapped the battlefields of Germany for the streets of Los Angeles. The Brad Pitt fan base showed up this weekend, as the Sony/Columbia release drew a solid $1.2 million on Thursday night and $7.6 million on Friday for a combined first day effort of $8.8 million. While Fury didn’t blow the cover off the baseball on opening day, it was a decent start, and was able to turn it into a weekend take of $23.5 million from 3,173 venues, giving it an average of $7,406. Five films earned more than $10 million this weekend, so the marketplace is crowded. The top ten is peppered with R-rated, adult-oriented product.
For Brad Pitt, this is his best non-World War Z opening since Inglourious Basterds earned $38 million in 2009 and Benjamin Button opened to $26.9 million in 2008. Had Sony chosen to put an unknown or even a lesser star into the tank, I believe the result here would have been much lower, as the marketing for Fury certainly did not sell this as a happy tale where Hitler gets it in the end. The strong supporting cast that includes Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena and The Walking Dead’s Jon Bernthal might have helped somewhat here, but let’s face it - audiences came out for Pitt this weekend. Reviews were solid from all critics at RottenTomatoes at 80%, but top critics at the site were less kind, giving Fury a 68% fresh rating. The Cinemascore was also solid at A-, the same score that Sony’s The Equalizer earned a few weeks earlier.