Box Office: Brad Pitt's 'Fury' Conquers Competition With $23.5M Weekend

Thanks to an army of older males, David Ayer’s Fury won the North American box office battle with $23.5 million from 3,173 theaters, toppling Gone Girl from the top spot and delivering one of the best openings of all time for a World War II war movie, not accounting for inflation. It’s also another win for star Brad Pitt.

As fate would have it, the year’s other high-profile WWII drama, Unbroken, was directed by Pitt’s wife, Angelina Jolie. Unbroken opens Christmas Day.

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). The film, earning an A- CinemaScore, also features ShiaLaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena, Jon Bernthal, Jason Isaacs and Scott Eastwood.

Read more Brad Pitt to Toast Veterans at ‘Fury’ Washington Premiere

In 2009, Pitt starred in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, which lays claim to the No. 2 opening of all time for a WWII war title ($38.1 million) after Pearl Harbor ($59.1 million). Fury ranks No. 4 behind those two titles and Saving Private Ryan ($30.6 million).

Holdover Gone Girl — jumping the $100 million mark domestically — edged out new family friendly entry Book of Life to take the No. 2 spot (both are from 20th Century Fox). Gone Girl fell just 31 percent to $17.8 million from 3,241 theaters for a total $107.1 million.

By the end of Halloween weekend, Gone Girl will have surpassed The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ($127.5 million) to become Fincher’s top film of all time in North America.

Book of Life, produced by Guillermo del Toro, came in No. 3 with $17 million from 3,071 theaters. Fox Animation and ReelFX co-produced the $50 million movie, 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, likewise earned 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 was 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. 5 for the weekend with $10.2 million from 2,936 locations, the lowest debut for a Sparks adaptation, not accounting for inflation. The previous low was the $12.2 million debut of A Walk to Remember (2002), the first Sparks adaptation to hit the big screen.

Relativity partnered on the $25 million film with DiNovi Pictures and Nichols Sparks Production, and sold off international. Best of Me, earning a B+ CinemaScore, came in behind Disney holdover Alexander the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

Alejandro G. Inarritu’s dark comedy Birdman soared at the specialty box office, earning $415,000 from four theaters in New York and Los Angeles for a whopping location average of $103,750, the second-best showing of the year so far after Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Read more New York Film Fest: ‘Birdman’ Cast on Superheroes, Theater and How “Being a Celebrity Is S—”

Fox Searchlight and New Regency partnered on the awards contender, starring Michael Keaton as a washed-up superhero-movie star who tries to reclaim his career by staging a play on Broadway. The awards contender also stars Edward Norton, Naomi Watts and Emma Stone.

Roadside Attraction and Justin Simien’s satirical dramedy Dear White People also prospered, earning $338,000 from 11 theaters in select markets for a location average of $30,702.