The Master’s US opening scored a record-breaking screen average, and now it is looking to convert global audiences. By Ian Sandwell

After winning the actor and director awards at the Venice Film Festival and scoring a record-breaking US opening, Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master starts its international roll-out this month in auspicious fashion.

Awards and critical acclaim are nothing new for Anderson, but major commercial success has been more difficult to come by. Until 2007’s There Will Be Blood, Anderson had not broken $30m domestically or $50m internationally.

Even with the star power of Tom Cruise, 1999’s Magnolia could reach only $48.5m worldwide, while Anderson’s foray into tragicomedy with Adam Sandler, 2002’s Punch-Drunk Love, remains one of Sandler’s lowest-ever grossers domestically, topping only Airheads and Mixed Nuts, both from 1994.

However, The Master looks set to follow in the lucrative footsteps of There Will Be Blood, which ended up on $76.4m worldwide. The drama focuses on alcoholic army veteran Freddie Quell (played by Joaquin Phoenix, working with Anderson for the first time), who finds salvation in cult leader Lancaster Dodd (Anderson regular Philip Seymour Hoffman).

The Master opened on September 14 through the Weinstein Company with the biggest-ever per-screen average in the US, based on unadjusted figures, an astonishing $147,263. It was still going strong domestically six weeks into its run, having made $14.7m by October 21.

If The Master is to repeat There Will Be Blood’s worldwide tally, Europe will be key. One of Anderson’s most consistent territories is the UK, where The Master will be released by Entertainment Film Distributors on November 16 after an exclusive 70mm two-week run from November 2 at London’s Odeon West End.

As well as being the biggest international territory for There Will Be Blood, with a $9.5m return, the UK also provided almost half of Boogie Nights’ international tally - $7.2m out of its overall $16.7m haul. And while it might not have been the biggest territory for Magnolia, the UK still provided a healthy $2.1m to its $26m international tally.

If The Master is to repeat There Will Be Blood’s worldwide tally, Europe will be key

The UK is matched in its consistency by France, which even showed some commercial affection for Punch-Drunk Love, with $1.6m (of $6.8m internationally) and around 330,000 admissions. As in the UK, There Will Be Blood is the biggest Anderson film in the territory, but it also proved fruitful for Magnolia, with around 370,000 admissions. Metropolitan Filmexport will release The Master in France on January 9.

Outside of Europe, Australia is among Anderson’s most popular territories, with solid returns for Boogie Nights ($1.8m) and Punch-Drunk Love ($1m), alongside the $2.3m mined by There Will Be Blood in the territory. The Master will be released on November 8, through Roadshow.

Anderson is not the only selling point in The Master’s favour, though. Neither of its lead stars are strangers to box office success, with Phoenix its most successful asset. Even early in his career, Phoenix appeared in a $100m success, as Ron Howard’s Parenthood laughed its way to $126.3m worldwide in 1989. It was Gladiator, however, that announced Phoenix onto the leading stage in 2000, with a whopping $457.7m. This was swiftly followed by a $408.3m haul for Signs in 2002, though with both those films, the directors - Ridley Scott and M Night Shyamalan, respectively - were arguably a bigger selling point than the cast.

Phoenix was to reunite with Shyamalan to equally lucrative ends in The Village, which cropped up $257.6m worldwide, before taking centre stage as Johnny Cash in 2005’s Walk The Line to the tune of $186.7m worldwide.

In contrast to Phoenix, Hoffman made his name in supporting roles. The most successful commercial film he has appeared in to date is Mission:Impossible III, with $397.5m worldwide (though he did also have a minor role in $495.9m grosser Twister).

Following support roles in the likes of Red Dragon ($206.5m worldwide), Cold Mountain ($161.6m worldwide) and Along Came Polly ($170.4m), Hoffman took arguably his first major leading role in Capote, as the eponymous writer. It led to an Academy Award for best actor and a highly respectable $49.2m worldwide.

The Master also has another potential ace in the form of Amy Adams. Having made a name for herself as princess Giselle in Enchanted ($340.4m worldwide), Adams has gone on to star in a number of successful adult-oriented efforts, including Julie & Julia ($126.6m worldwide) and The Fighter ($129.2m worldwide), as well as two with Hoffman - Doubt ($50.9m worldwide) and Charlie Wilson’s War ($119.5m worldwide).

Filmography: Paul Thomas Anderson

FilmRelease yearUS grossWorldwide gross
The Master2012$14.7m*$14.7m
There Will Be Blood2007$40.2m$76.4m
Punch-Drunk Love2002$17.8m$24.6m
Boogie Nights1997$26.4m$43.1m
Hard Eight1997$200,000$200,000

* Box office gross to 21 October 2012

Joaquin Phoenix: selected titles

FilmRelease yearUS grossWorldwide gross
Walk The Line2005$119.5m$186.7m
The Village2004$114.2m$257.6m
Ladder 492004$74.5m$102.3m


Philip Seymour Hoffman: selected titles

FilmRelease yearUS grossWorldwide gross
The Ides Of March2011$41m$54.9m
Charlie Wilson’s War2007$66.7m$119.5m
Mission: Impossible III2006$133.5m$397.5m


The Master: release dates

TerritoryDistributorRelease date
UKEntertainmentNov 2*
AustraliaRoadshowNov 8
SpainAltaDec 28
FranceMetropolitanJan 9
NorwayMis. LabelJan 11
CISFilm DepotFeb 7
ItalyLucky RedFeb 7
GermanySenatorFeb 21
MexicoSunFeb 22
JapanPhantomMar 2

* Two-week London run prior to general release on Nov 16