Weekend Box Office: Platform releases “The Master” and “Arbitrage” steal the show as blockbusters fizzle

"The Master" and "Arbitrage" ruled the box office this weekend despite playing in limited runs.“Resident Evil: Retribution” and Disney’s 3-D retrofit of “Finding Nemo” were the new wide releases this weekend, but with underwhelming box office numbers–the former performed nearly 20 percent worse than its immediate predecessor and the latter came in well under industry tracking, more in line with “Beauty and the Beast 3-D” than “The Lion King 3-D”–they were thoroughly upstaged by two limited-release breakouts.

First, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Scientology-inspired “The Master,” starring Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, broke the all-time per-theater-average record, with a whopping $730,000 from just five locations (four of which offered the film in 70mm). To put that number in perspective, “The Master” grossed about 30 percent more over the weekend than “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” which was playing on over 500 more screens.

Second, “Arbitrage,” the financial thriller starring Richard Gere, raked in $2.1 million from just 197 theaters for an excellent $10,508 per theater. That figure is especially strong given that the movie, released by Roadside Attractions, is also being offered on Video OnDemand through cable providers and services like iTunes and Amazon. Roadside pulled off a comparable feat last year with the similarly themed “Margin Call,” offering further ammunition to those who argue that day-and-date VOD doesn’t hurt theatrical box office receipts. “Arbitrage” could even double “Margin Call”‘s final take if enough theater owners jump on the bandwagon and agree to show it (Regal, for instance, has a policy to not book any release offered simultaneously on VOD).

Check out the top 10 chart below…

No. Title Weekend Per Theater Average Total
1 “Resident Evil: Retribution” $21.1M $7,005 $21.1M
2 “Finding Nemo 3-D” $17.5M $6,028 $17.5M
3 “The Possession” $5.8M $2,028 $41.2M
4 “Lawless” $4.2M $1,377 $30.1M
5 “ParaNorman” $3.0M $1,307 $49.3M
6 “The Expendables 2” $3.0M $1,046 $80.3M
7 “The Words” $2.9M $1,028 $9.2M
8 “The Bourne Legacy” $2.9M $1,325 $107.8M
9 “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” $2.5M $1,040 $46.3M
10 “The Campaign” $2.4M $1,201 $82.9M

Source: Box Office Mojo