The World War II film "Fury" probably won't tank at the box office this weekend.
Brad Pitt's latest action flick is on track to gross up to $30 million, putting it ahead of two-time box-office winner "Gone Girl," according to people who have seen pre-release audience surveys. It will also probably outpace newcomers "Book of Life" and "The Best of Me."
"Fury," which was backed by Columbia Pictures with QED International and LStar Capital, cost about $68 million to make. Sony moved up the release date for the film, which was originally scheduled for Nov. 14, the weekend after Paramount's "Interstellar" and Disney's animated "Big Hero 6."
The David Ayer-directed film follows Sgt. Don Collier (Pitt) who leads an U.S. Army tank crew (played by Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Peña and Jon Bernthal) across Nazi-controlled Germany.
Fandango, the nation's largest online movie ticket company, said Wednesday that the upcoming film is leading the weekend in ticket sales. It scored a 77 out of 100 on the company's Fanticipation movie buzz indicator, ahead of George Clooney's war film "The Monuments Men" at the same point in the sales cycle.
According to 1,000 ticket buyers surveyed by Fandango, 92% are fans of previous World War II-themed films like "Saving Private Ryan." About 74% of the ticket buyers identified themselves as Pitt fans and 66% saw his previous war-themed movie "Inglourious Basterds."
The film is likely to draw largely male audiences who are fans of war films and the male-driven cast that includes popular young actors like LaBeouf and Lerman. On Thursday, "Fury" had notched a 75% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
David Fincher's "Gone Girl" could come in second. The film, which is expected to pull in up to $20 million in its third weekend, has grossed almost $87 million in the U.S. and Canada since its release.
Based on the popular novel by Gillian Flynn, the Fox drama follows Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) after his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), goes missing. So far, it's wooed fans of Flynn, Fincher and Affleck as well as critics. It received a B grade from audience polling firm CinemaScore and a high 87% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Meanwhile, "The Book of Life" is expected to open to between $15 million and $20 million. The film, co-financed by 20th Century Fox and ReelFX, cost about $50 million to make. The studio forecast similar opening numbers.
The animated film, written and directed by Jorge Gutierrez, follows Manolo through a quest through different worlds to rescue his true love and defend his village. The PG-rated film is produced by Guillermo del Toro and voiced by a star-studded cast that includes Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube and Christina Applegate.
It will probably attract family audiences that flocked to recent animated stop-motion film "The Boxtrolls," which debuted at $17 million. It is also likely going to fare well with the Latino demographic, which tends to be under-sampled in tracking.
Nicholas Sparks' book adaptation "The Best of Me" is probably going to be the biggest disappointment of the weekend with a projected opening of up to $12 million.
The film, which cost about $26 million to make, is the third Sparks adaptation for Relativity Media, which partnered with Sparks and DiNovi Productions for this release.
The romantic tearjerker follows high school sweethearts Dawson (James Marsden) and Amanda (Michelle Monaghan) when they reunite for a friend's funeral after 20 years apart. Originally, the role of Dawson was supposed to be played by the late Paul Walker.
Many are likening the film to other Sparks projects like "The Notebook," "Safe Haven" and "Dear John," which lured in large female audiences and fans of Sparks. However, many of the author's other film adaptations have opened to at least $20 million.
The 2004 movie adaptation of "The Notebook," starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, opened to about $13.4 million but ultimately ended up grossing around $115 million worldwide.
"Birdman," which has generated much film festival buzz, will open in New York and Los Angeles. The film, starring Michael Keaton, has the potential to break out of art house theaters.
"Dear White People," which took home the Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, is also opening in limited release. The satire about race relations, directed by Justin Simien, follows a group of black students on a fictional, predominately white college campus as they explore racial identity in a "post-racial" America.