Even though Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master only played in five theaters across the country, it set the box office on fire. The Master now has the highest per-screen average for a film with a traditional release. It made $736,311 over the weekend, which comes out to $147,262 per screen.
/Film notes a bunch of catches to this, however. There are a number of films that had special screenings that surpass The Master's record-breaking per-screen average. The Lion King, for example, had a two-week long special engagement at two screens before its wider release and grossed a downright ludicrous $793,377 per screen. /Film also mentions Kevin Smith's Red State, which grossed $204,230 at a special one-night screening/Q&A; tickets were roughly $60 a pop.
It's great that The Master has done so well, but it's honestly a little puzzling to me. Even though I enjoyed it and will watch the movie again in the next week or so, The Master is going to piss off and alienate lots of moviegoers. Not just Scientologists. It's a really difficult, ambiguous film, the kind that mainstream audiences will never embrace since it's not driven by plot or anchored to conventional character arcs. Still, bully for Anderson.
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