- Brad Pitt's World War II drama "Fury" opened at No. 1
- It pushed "Gone Girl" out of the top spot
- Opening at No. 3 was the animated "The Book of Life"
Brad Pitt triumphed over Ben Affleck at the box office this weekend as World War II drama "Fury" ousted "Gone Girl" from its two-week ride as the nation's No. 1 movie.
Brad Pitt stars in "Fury" as a U.S. Army tank commander behind enemy lines in Nazi Germany. With an estimated opening weekend of $23.5 million, "Fury" is no blockbuster, but it does give Pitt bragging rights over his pals George Clooney and Matt Damon.
That duo's WWII flick, "The Monuments Men," opened in February with just $22 million -- a distant second to that weekend's blockbuster debut, "The Lego Movie."
After a fortnight in front, Ben Affleck and "Gone Girl" settled for second place, even as the acclaimed thriller crossed the $100 million mark in domestic box office and $200 million worldwide.
That's all the more impressive considering the fact that the dysfunctional couple at the center of "Gone Girl" puts it in the same "worst date movies ever" category as "The War of the Roses" and "Fatal Attraction."
Moviegoers looking for romance this weekend went for animated over live-action. "The Book of Life" enjoyed a healthy $17 million debut, good enough for third place, while "The Best of Me" limped into fifth with just $10.2 million. That's the worst opening ever for a Nicholas Sparks movie, and it has sour reviews to match with an atrocious 8% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The recent lawsuit accusing Sparks of homophobia and racism -- allegations the romance author has denied -- probably didn't help at the box office.
That covers the good and the bad. The ugly this weekend was "Men, Women & Children," which expanded from limited to moderate release. Even with Adam Sandler and Jennifer Garner in the ensemble cast, and Jason Reitman ("Up In The Air," "Juno") behind the camera, the drama about our addiction to technology made just $320,000 in 608 theaters.
Just how awful is that? By comparison, the new indie drama "Birdman," starring Michael Keaton, debuted with $415,000 -- in four theaters.
We're not forgetting fans of Groot and Rocky Raccoon: "Guardians of the Galaxy" is down to 730 screens but it still made an estimated $1 million over the weekend, its 12th in theaters. At this rate, "Guardians" may still be playing at a few multiplexes when the Blu-ray and DVD versions hit stores December 9.
Domestic weekend box office estimates from Exhibitor Relations Co. (final numbers released Monday afternoon):
1. "Fury" -- $23.5 million
2. "Gone Girl -- $17.8 million
3. "The Book of Life" -- $17 million
4. "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" -- $12 million
5. "The Best of Me" -- $10.2 million