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TORONTO — The Weinstein Co.’s awards contender The Master was off to a stellar start at the Friday box office, boasting sell-out shows in five theaters in New York and Los Angeles.
If traffic holds, the Paul Thomas Anderson-directed film — in part inspired by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard — could post a per location average of $100,000 or more for the weekend, one of the highest averages ever.
The Master, premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival last weekend, stars Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams.
Toronto officially kicks off awards season, and also opening Friday opposite The Master is Roadside Attractions’ awards contender Arbitrage, directed and written by Nicholas Jarecki and starring Richard Gere. Arbitrage, opening in 197 theaters across the country, was likewise enjoying good buisness on Friday.
The weekend’s two new wide players are Sony and Screen Gems’ zombie-battling Resident Evil: Retribution and Disney’s 3D rerelease of the Pixar classic Finding Nemo. The two films are tracking to gross in the low-to-mid $20 million range for the weekend, although some box-office observers are giving Retribution an edge.
Retribution grossed a pleasing $665,000 in midnight runs as it launched 12:01 a.m. Friday and is the fifth film in the Resident Evil franchise that has seen Milla Jovovich battle wave upon wave of futuristic zombies.
From Sony’s Screen Gems unit, the Resident movies have been reliable moneymakers. 2002’s Resident Evil bowed to $17.7 million. The subsequent installments have opened to $23 million, $23.7 million and $26.7 million, respectively.
The newest chapter, produced in 3D at a cost of $65 million, is directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, who directed two of the previous films in the series.
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