It was a battle at the box office this weekend as the male heavy Fury battled the female friendly Gone Girl and the World War II drama came out victorious though Gone Girl still came out a big winner as well.
Starting with Sony's (NYSE:SNE) Fury, the Brad Pitt led drama is looking at a total haul of $23.5 million which is right around the $25 million mark it had been projected to earn. The film represents a career best for director David Ayers and will be the fourth highest opening for a World War II set drama of all time behind Pearl Harbor ($59.1 million), Pitt's Inglourious Basterds ($38.1 million) and Saving Private Ryan ($30.6 million). The year still has one more WWII pic on the horizon in Unbroken, ironically directed by Pitt's wife Angelina Jolie.
Fox's (NASDAQ:FOXA) Gone Girl will then in turn drop to the two slot after back-to-back first place finishes as it adds another $17.8 million to its total which places the film over the magical $100 million mark. Director David Fincher's best performing film to date is The Curious Case of Benjamin Button which earned over $127 million and Girl should reach that by the end of the month giving him a new career high.
Placing third will be another Fox release in The Book Of Life, which is produced by Guillermo del Toro and directed by Jorge Gutierrez. The animated film loosely inspired by the Day of the Dead holiday came "this close" to topping Girl as it earned $17 million. Made for $50 million, the movie should be on track to re-coup its production cost before the end of its run.
Getting back to Fury, this is a win for Sony as the film marks the studio's third straight number one opening of $20 million or more (following September's No Good Deed and The Equalizer). After seeing its summer slate get off to a rough start courtesy of the under-performing Amazing Spider-Man 2, the studio rebounded nicely with 22 Jump Street and Think Like A Man Too.
Now combined with this successful trio you can see why executives and investors are very happy with the performance of the studio's film division (which is always overshadowed by its gaming and consumer products siblings). Sony still has two more films slated for 2014 including a new remake of acclaimed musical Annie and "buddy" comedy The Interview both set for December.
Meanwhile Fox also has a big reason to smile as there's no way you can look at Gone Girl as anything but a bona fide hit. With a career defining performance from Oscar front-runner Rosamund Pike and another "yes, I can really act" turn from Ben Affleck, Gone Girl has become one of the year's most buzzed about pictures.
The studio also released Book of Life, which of the studio's five films it had left to distribute entering the weekend was the one with the least momentum. That's not to say it wasn't expected to do well, but compared to something like The Penguins of Madagascar or Night At The Museum 3, it wasn't as well known. $17 million is a solid take for the film and it won't have to battle another kid-friendly flick until the first week of November when Disney releases Big Hero 6.
From an investor's perspective Fox's film division is just one part of the equation as it also has a thriving TV side which includes the successful Fox Sports and Fox News brands plus the similarly named broadcast network and cable subsidiaries FX and FXX. With hits like Gotham, Sons of Anarchy and American Horror Story: Freak Show and well as the rights to the vast Simpsons library the networks will definitely end the year on a high note.
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