Paul Thomas Anderson‘s The Master didn’t need 3D or IMAX to break box office records, just a crowd of devoted cinephiles. The highly anticipated film opened in five theaters in New York and Los Angeles over the weekend, and set the record for highest per-screen-average for a live-action feature with a traditional release. If that sounds like just a bunch of gibberish, keep on reading.

The Master opened Friday in limited theaters and earned a total of $730,000 over the weekend. That’s a $146,000 per screen average. The film broke the record set by Wes Anderson‘s Moonrise Kingdom in May. Moonrise Kingdom earned $522,996 during its four-theater weekend opening, making an average of $130,749 per theater.

There have been other movies, like Kevin Smith‘s Red State, that have earned more than $146,000 per screen during their opening weekend. But none have had the traditional release of The Master. When Red State made $204,230 on one night in March 2011, it was because ticket prices were $60 (the ticket included the screening plus a Q&A). The Master‘s release didn’t include inflated ticket prices. There were no special Q&A’s or $60 tickets. Just regular ticket prices at regular movie theaters.

Much of The Master‘s success is thanks to the buzz the film had been garnering over the past few months. Between the subject of Scientology, the acclaimed performances of Philip Seymour-Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix, and the unannounced screenings, the film had been gathering a lot of momentum. And it all payed off this past weekend.

The Weinstein Company was thrilled with the fin’s success, and Eric Lomis, the head of distribution at the company, told Deadline:

“We’re thrilled with the number. It set the screen record and all the credit in the world goes to Paul Thomas Anderson with his guerrilla marketing strategy combined with moving the [release date] to this weekend.”

It’s good to know that people still appreciate originality and good filmmaking in this day and age. And that a film doesn’t need to be a reboot or shown in 3D to do well at the box office.

The Master opens wide this Friday, September 21st.

What do you think?

Source: Slashfilm