Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" is looking very good to break the all-time record for a limited debut.
The film — which stars Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams — opened in 5 theaters in New York and Los Angeles on Friday and took in a staggering $242,127 on opening night alone. That gave it a $48,425 daily average and put it on track for a week in the $700,000-$800,000 range, which would give it a record-setting per-theater-average of around $140,000-$160,000.
The current per-theater-average record for a live -action film actually comes from earlier this year when "Moonrise Kingdom" averaged $130,749 from 4 screens, which topped "Dreamgirls," "Brokeback Mountain" and "Precious," the only other live-action films to find averages north of $100,000 (a dozen or so animated Disney films have much higher averages thanks to massive special screenings they'd hold before wide release — "The Lion King" is still #1 with a whopping $793,377).
Paul Thomas Anderson's previous film, "There Will Be Blood," averaged $95,370 from 2 screens in December, 2007, which was at the time the fourth best live-action average, behind "Dreamgirls," "Brokeback" and "Evita."
"The Master" screened at The Landmark and ArcLight Hollywood in Los Angeles, and Lincoln Square 13 IMAX, Angelika Film Center 6 and Village East Cinemas in New York. It expands significantly next Friday,