The day finally came on Friday as Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" finally opened in limited release. Playing in just 5 theatres in NYC and LA, the film had sellout shows all weekend taking in an incredible $729,745 and breaking the record (previously held by Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom") for the best limited debut ever for a live-action film with a $145,949 per-theater-average. (For comparison "There Will Be Blood" averaged $95,370 when it opened in 2 theaters back in 2007.) Deadline has the scoop straight from Weinstein Co.
“We’re thrilled with the numbers. 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,” said said TWC Head of Distribution Erik Lomis. “I’m expecting my phone to ring off the hook from exhibitors tomorrow.” The Weinstein Company had initially set an October rollout of The Master which picked up best director and actor awards at the recent Venice Film Festival where it was reportedly also the be jury’s pick for the top prize, the Golden Lion, until fest officials enforced a rule that limits the number of big awards per film. Lomis credited the cast’s performances for bringing out audiences over the weekend and Anderson for organizing pop-up screenings, driving word-of-mouth. Lomis called the strategy “an eye-opener” that clearly worked. “We could not be happier”. Weintstein plans to move The Master into 600-800 theaters in its second round.
What else happened this weekend? Well, Joaquin Phoenix gave an interview to Time Magazine where he says he's only seen the film as a rough cut with no score and "thought it was a comedy."
UPDATE 9/17: There are three brand new new interviews with Paul over at Filmmaker Magazine, SF Gate and the Vancouver Sun, all absolutely worth reading.
The Atlantic has a must-read piece about the evolution of PTA's style citing the divide between his first three films to "Punch-Drunk Love" charting a new path for his career. The end rings particularly true.
Each of Anderson's works prepares us for the next, and each is unimaginable without its predecessor. Tarantino has a new picture out this fall as well, and it looks like fun. But it also looks, unquestionably, like the latest film from the director of Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill. His style is set and probably won't change much. Anderson's style, on the other hand, is still evolving, and will probably continue to do so as long as he remains patently uninterested in bending to expectations.Your move, Quentin. Speaking of the "Django Unchained" director, he was just one of a few famous folks checking out "The Master" this weekend. Tarantino was spotted at the 8pm showing at the Arclight on Friday night presumably checking out his (friendly) competition, while Steve Martin, Andrew Garfield & Emma Stone, Susan Sarandon and Sam Rockwell were all sighted at various NYC screenings.
Yahoo has a short but very spoilery interview with a British actress who plays a small but pivotal part in the film. WARNING: it is VERY VERY spoiler-heavy, a.k.a. You Do Not Want To Know Until After You've Seen The Film. Cool?
I saw the film a 3rd and 4th time this weekend, on Friday night at Lincoln Square and Sunday evening at the Village East. I really don't know what else to say except that I truly fucking love this film & it gets richer with each viewing. There are still plenty of things I'm puzzling through (some of which will likely never be "solved") but repeated viewings have definitely brought some things into clearer view.
Between the presentations at both cinemas, I much preferred my experience at the Village East. The screen is HUGE, the 70mm looked especially crisp and the sound was LOUD. Lincoln Square volume was a little low and the 70mm didn't blow me away like in Chicago, TIFF and Village East for some reason...not sure why because I usually love that room. To those of you outside both coasts, apologies for the #FOMO, but the film will be with you soon enough. The film expands from 5 locations to 700-800 this Friday including a few more 70mm engagements.
If plan on catching the film more than once, hang onto your ticket stubs. We may have some use for them in the near future...
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