Monday, September 17, 2012

"The Master" Starts off its Legacy by Breaking a Box Office Record

Left to right: Madison Beatty and Joaquin Phoenix

This past weekend, The Master opened in five theaters in Los Angeles and New York. Following a stream of positive feedback (A rating of 8.4 out of 10 on IMDb and 87% on Rotten Tomatoes), the movie has exceeded many expectations of the movie's simple debut. Following Paul Thomas Anderson's biggest achievement There Will Be Blood, the story follows a tale of a Naval veteran (Joaquin Phoenix) as he returns home distraught, looking for some semblance in the world, only to fall for a Scientology-inspired program called The Cause, lead by "The Master" (Philip Seymour Hoffman). How well did it do this weekend?

Despite critical acclaim, Anderson is not known for being a big box office draw. His highest grossing picture (There Will Be Blood) peaked at $44 million. Also, Phoenix and Hoffman are not well known box office draws. The most that this movie had going for it succeeding was prestige and the chance to see it on 70mm. As a result, people were expecting a modest hit.

But think again. This morning when reports were released, it didn't make the top 10 at the box office, but what it did do was pretty impressive:

It made $147,262 PER SCREEN. To put that into perspective, the number one movie Resident Evil: Retribution scored significantly less with $7,005 per screen on 3,012 screens. This has lead the Weinstein Company to move up the wide release, which was originally set for October. 

This is also great news because The Master is also currently the holder of best per screen average to date. The record was previously held by the hopefully Oscar-nominated Wes Anderson film Moonrise Kingdom. That movie has had a success story of its own this year as well as it debuted with $130,749 per screen on four screens. It is also Wes Anderson's highest grossing movie to date with $44 million. 

It is a pretty great time to be a veteran indie filmmaker. They may not get the most screens, but they get the records that movies like The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises cannot. This is most likely due to a mix of prestige of great consistent work and a limited supply, therefore more demand. I would love to see this continue and I hope that this is hopefully a sign that The Master is on its way to becoming a breakout hit as well as a heavyweight at this year's Oscars.

What do you think? Does this mark the beginning of a rapid success story for The Master?

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