In the weeks leading up to The Master’s limited release on Friday, Paul Thomas Anderson and company sought out venues across the country with 70mm capabilities and used them for a number of benefit screenings. As a de facto promotional tour, the message being sent was a strong one: In 70mm, The Master became an event, an arthouse Spartacus, supported by quick sellouts and a groundswell of critical support. Anderson’s efforts—in support, incidentally, of his most challenging film to date—paid off in record fashion over the weekend, as The Master bowed to the highest per screen average ever for a live-action movie. At $146,000 per screen on five screens for a $730,000 total, the film blitzed theaters in New York and Los Angeles, and will expand to many more cities on Friday. Nearly as impressive in its own right, the Richard Gere financial thriller Arbitrage scored a $10,508 per screen average on 197 screens, a great number made better by the fact that it’s also available On Demand. It had long been assumed, by theater-owners especially, that “Day and Date” releases would discourage people from leaving their homes but this and Margin Call give an argument to the contrary—at least as it applies to wonky movies about Wall Street.
After the late-summer doldrums were more doldrum-y than expected, Milla Jovavich brought the multiplexes back from the dead by killing the dead for a fifth time in Resident Evil: Whatever, which grossed $21.1 million for the top spot. (Last week’s #1, The Possession, dropped to #3 with $5.8 million and has only brought in $41.2 million total, which is about as flaccid a cumulative number as a two-week #1 in 2012 could possibly earn. The reissue of Finding Nemo in 3-D was a solid second place at $17.5 million, despite being converted to a format that totally sucks.
For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.