Fury, starring Brad Pitt, is the biggest scale picture that director David Ayer (End Of Watch) has ever handled and his second through QED (after falling flat earlier this year with Sabotage). The war pic is so far leading in advance ticket sales, according to Fandango, in preparation for its 3,155 runs tomorrow. It is expected to take the weekend over Gone Girl which has been performing well during the mid-week after three weeks in release. It is actually tracking along the lines of Act Of Valor (which opened to $24.5M in February 2012) but with the star power of Pitt. Red State males tend to come out for war pics so if they come out for the film, it could boost its box office into the $30Ms. We’ll see. It opens tonight at 7 PM.

178748-fury-503Sony is saying the budget for Fury is $68M and here’s what we know of the breakdown:  The studio picked up the picture for about $50M+ before production started. The total budget – all in with marketing and distribution costs both here and abroad — is roughly $150M.  (Uni’s Lone Survivor made $149M all in). QED is distributing the picture through partners in Italy, China, and Japan and other territories — with all proceeds going into one pot to divvy up afterwards. Pitt’s presence will definitely help lift both the domestic and international box office — probably why the picture has any female interest as most of that demo are flocking to Gone Girl.

A good comparable picture is Inglourious Basterds which, of course, had the Tarantino brand name stamped all over it. That opened to $38M in August of 2009. Monuments Men (which is NOT really a war pic) opened to $22M in February of this year and some are looking at that and the Tom Cruise actioner Edge Of Tomorrow because of the demos, though Fury is clearly doing better with males 25 to 45 years old than Edge (which opened to $28M over the summer). Are Red State males beating their drums?

The-Book-of-Life-Guillermo-Del-Toro-Jorge-RGutierrez-interviewThe Book Of Life, the animated picture from Reel FX and Fox Animation, is a delightful Mexican adventure from director Jorge Gutierrez and Guillermo del Toro. Reel FX, which started out doing animated commercials, had their first film fly into theaters last year — Free Birds which opened to $15.8M before ending its worldwide run at $110M+. The last animated film in the marketplace, The Boxtrolls, opened four weeks ago to $17.2M so this one could do around the same or a little under. The pages for The Book Of Life open at 7 PM in advance of its 3,069 theater run.

Interestingly, this mythical tale — which Fox is saying cost $50M — was based on stories from the director’s family and came about because he had a friend who worked in the Dallas office of RealFX who got Guillermo involved and they subsequently took it to Fox. It certainly is expected to be a heavily skewed Hispanic audiences and that audience segment tends to come out in groups. Of course, the wider overall family audience should also come out for this one.

BestofMeThat takes us to the other newbie: Relativity’s Best Of Me based on the book by Nicholas Sparks. Best of Me is the 9th Sparks’ book to be adapted into a feature film and the third of the author’s work to go through Relativity (Safe Haven and Dear John preceded). This one is said to have a budget of around $26M and due to pre-sales (both foreign and ancillary) and tax credits, Relativity’s exposure is only said to be around $5M. It is tracking between $12M to $14M right now, but tracking has been so God awful lately, who knows … I’m thinking low end. It is getting some interest from female audiences … ah, yes, romance. It will roll out tonight at 8 PM before releasing wide in 2,936 theaters.

Safe Haven is the comp but it has much less interest than Safe Haven which opened to $21M last February on Valentine’s Day adjacent. The demos for both, however, are similar. Here’s the rub: the film has no name stars in it to garner the same interest from the YA audience. It stars Michelle Monaghan (Source Code, Gone Baby Gone), James Marsden (X-Men, Enchanted), Luke Bracey (The November Man), Liana Liberato (If I Stay) and Gerald McRaney (Longmire). See what I mean? It’s opening in the UK/Ireland this weekend, too.

st+vincent+trailerOne of the YA favorites, Ansel Elgort (The Fault In Our Stars, Divergent), is part of the ensemble cast in Jason Reitman’s Men Women And Children which goes wider this weekend to 610 screens. The R-rated comedy/drama which premiered in Toronto this year, also stars Adam Sandler and Emma Thompson. It’s from Paramount. Also, a personal favorite, director Ted Melfi’s St. Vincent, starring Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd and brilliant little newcomer Jaeden Lieberher (oh yeah, Naomi Watts, too), expands this weekend to the top 25 markets and 68 locales; it’ll go wide the following weekend in a platform being handled deftly by The Weinstein Co.