‘The Master’ & ‘Arbitrage’ Do Big Box Office Business in Limited Release

Published 3 years ago by

arbitrage master box office The Master & Arbitrage Do Big Box Office Business in Limited Release

Hollywood, take note: the real victor at the box office this weekend was not Resident Evil: Retribution. True victory was shared by a pair of much-buzzed about indie flicks – Nicholas Jarecki’s Arbitrage starring Richard Gere, and P.T. Anderson’s The Master with Joaquin Phoenix – which had truly impressive debuts, garnering weekend-high per-theater counts in limited release (Anderson’s film even broke a record or two).

The two films are, in many ways, very similar, as they each represent the original work of a writer-director who was partially inspired by a real person (Bernie Madoff with Arbitrage, Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard with The Master) – not to mention, two leading man performances that many regard as respective tour-de-forces worthy of awards consideration.

Anderson’s The Master has been generating lots of buzz in recent months, between encouraging responses from pre-release screenings (look for our review later this week) and continued controversy over the surface connections to Scientology; of course, the film is also the first Anderson project since his Oscar-winning There Will Be Blood, so anticipation has been building among members of the arthouse crowd for five years now. The end result: The Master grossed $730K in just 5 theaters this weekend (an average of $146,000 per theater).

However, The Master deserves credit beyond landing the second-highest total for a limited-release live-action film (behind Kevin Smith’s Red State); it demonstrates that a filmmaker’s prolonged devotion of time and effort to their craft can not only produce an artistically-satisfying final product, but also a lucrative one.

the master The Master & Arbitrage Do Big Box Office Business in Limited Release

Philip Seymour Hoffman in ‘The Master’

Longtime readers will recall that The Master hit the wall two years ago, lacking proper funding and support; that is, before Anderson found the necessary financing in order to continue moving forward once again, via up-and-coming Hollywood power-player Megan Ellison of Annapurna Pictures (True Grit, Lawless). Moreover, Anderson’s commitment to seeing the venture through went beyond making the movie, as he was responsible for cutting the alluring series of Master teasers that got people talking months before anyone had even seen the film.

Costars Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams have likewise contributed to The Master‘s preliminary success – not only through their promotion of the film, but their stirring performances therein. In fact, that is another trait that Master shares with Arbitrage, as the latter’s ensemble cast have also been making critics sit up and take notice. That includes performances by such decorated stars as Susan Sarandon and Tim Roth, in addition to up-and-comers Britt Marling (Sound of My Voice) and Nate Parker – one of Variety‘s 10 Actors to Watch in 2012.

Arbitrage is not being heralded as a grand statement about America (unlike The Master). Nonetheless, the consensus seems to be that it is, in fact, an intelligent and engaging drama-thriller that manages to touch on timely issues in a manner that encourages discussion – as opposed to providing cookie-cutter moral lessons and answers. Gere’s leading turn therein is likewise widely regarded as the quiet, but excellent, antithesis to Phoenix’s daringly unhinged turn in The Master.

Arbitrage 2012 Movie Poster The Master & Arbitrage Do Big Box Office Business in Limited Release

As a result of all that, Arbitrage opened to an estimated $2 million in 200 theaters over the weekend, netting it a per-theater average of over $10,500, which was higher than any other film in the Top 50 (save for The Master, obviously). Neither Arbitrage nor The Master will manage to maintain their strong averages as they expand to more theaters over the forthcoming weeks; however, both are already proven critical successes that should reach a profit at the end of the day.

When you consider how recent franchise installments (The Bourne Legacy) and big-budget remakes (Total Recall) have struggled to accomplish those tasks – or failed at both, in Total Recall‘s case – the studio-professed logic that smart, non-recycled, entertainment is too risky sounds even sillier than it did before. As we said: Hollywood, take the hint.

Keep you eyes peeled for both Arbitrage and The Master to reach a theater near you in the forthcoming weeks.


Source: Box Office Mojo

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  1. The Master is expected to reach nationwide this weekend, Arbitrage will probably do a slow rollout. Can’ wait to see both though!

    Also, even though Red State has the record for biggest PTA, it should be noted that it got it under special circumstances. It premiered as a special even in one theater where tickets where $40.

  2. I just find it hard to take Richard Gere seriously.

  3. Is SR going to do an Arbitrage review as well?

  4. Why is Arbitrage already being shown on Video-On-Demand? Is this similar to a film going straight to DVD? Is it being released on VOD considered a good thing or a huge failure? Someone please explain.


    • From what I understand, VOD is a good thing.

      Its mostly used for indies like Arbitrage so that people can get a chance to watch it in case its not in a theater near you, and the hope is that it builds word of mouth to get more people to watch that movie 9either in theaters or on demand).

      Either way, it probably isn’t a bad thing since studios are actually making a TON of money on it.

      I guess that its not the same as straight to DVD, because that means that it didn’t even get a theatrical release, whereas a lot of the VOD movies are getting theatrical releases.

      Does that help?

      PS, Screenrant, this would be a good article for you guys to cover by the way, explaining what VOD is and how it can help a movie. I’d totally read that!

      • Yeah at one time there was a movement to do many if not most mainstream films this way. Don’t know what happened to that, perhaps Hollywood feared a public outcry for one reason or another. Perhaps they saw the model as eventually threatening theater based presentation. I have to agree that it’s good for some movies. The model might work with 3-D in areas where no theater is willing to adopt the evolving technology, both home and theater based spectacle free 3-D is in the works so it’s likely a model waiting for the right circumstances to appear to really spread if it happens at all…

    • huge failure pure and simple. there was a movie with Sean William Scott called Goon, a hockey movie on the realm of an updated Slap Shot with big supporting/lead actors. the movie released VOD and never did anything at the theaters. VOD is an old model concept that was around since the late seventies that was ready to be implemented by ATT, the govt breakup of the phone cos. stopped that technology from launching. Your govt at work as usual screwing things up.

  5. The Master>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

  6. So they release limited so they can claim success. I could care less about another movie that illustrates how Wall Street rips off the system and Phoenix shaves his beard explosion and now we have to acknowledge his greatness again. Come on.

  7. Arbitrage was the best movie that I have seen in years. Very well written and very well executed. Bravo, Bravo!!!!!