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The Master Smashes All (Per Theater, Limited Release) Box Office Records!

And other stories from this weekend’s box office.

Joaquin Phoenix, Paul Thomas AndersonAfter last weekend’s shameful box office numbers, things are looking up in Hollywood. Originality is still dead, for the most part: The big movies were a re-release and a sequel. But at least the same old, unoriginal stuff made some money!

First, good news for Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master. Out in only five theaters, it managed a $729,745 haul. That’s a $145,949 per theater average, and that’s the BEST per-theater average for a live-action film EVER. (The record was most recently held by Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, which put up a $130,749 figure). Yes, The Master reviews are already gushing, and Oscar glory seems destined. But (relatively) big money is always a bonus come award season, differentiating your classy high-brow fare from all the classy high-brow fare nobody saw. PTA’s highest-grossing movie to date was his last, 2007’s There Will Be Blood, which managed over $40 million. If The Master‘s hoping to take that title, it’s off to a damn fine start. If David Miscavige seems particularly irritable this morning, this is probably why.

Another qualified record: With $190 million in the bag, Seth MacFarlane’s Ted is scheduled to pass The Hangover’s international box office today. That’ll make it “the highest-grossing original R-rated comedy of all time overseas.” Citizens of the world! On your next spiritual journey through the dark recesses of the globe, if you want to forge a deep connection with the locals? Try quoting Family Guy.

Over in the general field: Resident Evil: Retribution, the fifth installment in director Paul W.S. Anderson’s franchise, nabbed $21.1 million, and beat the Finding Nemo re-release to take the top spot. As Deadline explains, this whole franchise is a sickly underrated money-printing operation: “The previous 4 films have an aggregate worldwide gross of $675M. The last film made $296M. If this 5th film could get to $325M worldwide” — and it’s already over $70 worldwide — “then the franchise hits $1B in worldwide box office.” And as we speak, all manner of aspiring directors are changing their names to the tried-and-true Paul [Blank] Anderson format.