Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice debuted amid much anticipation and easily grossed the weekend’s highest per-theater averages among all limited-release titles. But that didn’t mean it could match the stratospheric numbers of The Imitation Game, Birdman or The Grand Budapest Hotel, which had the year’s biggest opening weekends.

In fact, Vice didn’t even match the PTAs of P.T.A.’s previous three films, though word of mouth may give it a great high before its theatrical run is done. Among returning films, Wild covered a lot more ground in a sizable expansion that paid off with solid box office results, as did The Imitation Game, which continues to expand and thrive. And Birdman has soared past $20M in its 9th weekend, goosed by strong showings in several year-end critics polls.

Inherent Vice posterWarner Bros. opened Vice in five New York and Los Angeles theaters Friday, grossing $330K. That gives the feature – which stars Joaquin Phoenix, Katherine Waterston, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Joanna Newsom and Benicio del Toro – a $66K per theater average. In most cases, that might be something to brag about, but PTA’s own comps are tough.

Anderson’s last film, The Master, had a stratospheric bow in 2012 with a $147,262 PTA, and went on to cume about $16.37M. There Will Be Blood had a $95,370 PTA in two theaters when it opened in 2007, ultimately grossing $40.22M. Punch-Drunk Love averaged $73,440 in five theaters back in 2002 ($17.84M cume), while Magnolia averaged $27,657 in seven locations ($22.45M cume). Boogie Nights only averaged $25,084 in two theaters in its 1997 bow, but it went on to cume $26.4M in theaters. Inherent Vice could follow its ’90s predecessor in PTA’s pantheon of offbeat L.A. stories.

In other openers, China Lion opened Back In Time in 20 locations, grossing a decent $210K for a $10,500 PTA. The Mandarin-language film was a “last-minute pick-up” for the niche distributor at this year’s AFM.

“The interest in the film was tremendous and we even had one of the stars post our entire list of locations throughout the US and Canada on their social media for us,” the company said in a release. “Hopefully we’ll have another weekend like this; we’re looking to expand to Ottawa as well as further in our core cities of San Francisco and Toronto.”

Cohen Media Group opened Magician: The The Astonishing Life And Work Of Orson Welles on a pair of screens, grossing $7,222 ($3,611 PTA), while Kino Lorber bowed French-language feature Tip Top in one NYC theater, grossing $2K.

Hunger Games Mockingjay Weathers a Sluggish First December Weekend FrameFox Searchlight added 95 theaters for the second frame of Wild. It appears the distributor has yet another winner, after the adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s best-selling hike memoir grossed $1.55M for a solid $13,362 PTA. The film also landed in the top 10 in the overall box office as of Sunday morning.

“The film is attracting a broad audience as evidenced by the very strong results –overall A- polling scores — in mainstream theaters as well as the art and specialty community,” Searchlight said in a release. Wild “is receiving great reviews and some very important awards consideration, particularly for Reese Witherspoon, and with this weekend’s notable performance at the box office, we are now ready to expand the picture across North America.”

Wild will open in over 850 theaters by Dec. 19, with another expansion Christmas day.

the-imitation-gameThe Weinstein Company added 17 theaters for The Imitation Game in its third weekend. It grossed $875K in 25 theaters, for a robust $35K PTA. It has now cumed $2M. Last week, the Alan Turing biopic starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley grossed $401K in just eight locations, averaging $50,196.

In other holdovers, Rosewater passed $3M in its 5th week, while Birdman went well past $20M in its ninth week. It grossed over $1.3 million in 606 theaters for a $2,186 PTA.

NEW
Back In Time (China Lion) NEW [20 Theaters] Weekend $210K, Average $10,500
Inherent Vice (Warner Bros.) NEW [5 Theaters] Weekend $330K, Average $66K
Magician: The Astonishing Life And Work Of Orson Welles (Cohen Media Group) NEW [2 Theaters] Weekend $7,222, Average $3,611, Cume $9,854
Tip Top (Kino Lorber) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $2K

RETURNING/SECOND WEEKEND
Wild (Fox Searchlight) Week 2 [116 Theaters] Weekend $1.55M, Average $13,362, Cume $2,423,170

HOLDOVERS / THIRD+ WEEKENDS
Antarctica: A Year On Ice (Music Box Films) Week 3 [26 Theaters] Weekend $37K, Average $1,423, Cume $125,015
The Babadook (IFC Midnight) Week 3 [80 Theaters] Weekend $137,600, Average $1,720, Cume $305,235
The Imitation Game (The Weinstein Company) Week 3 [25 Theaters] Weekend $875,136, Average $35,005, Cume $2M
Women Who Flirt (China Lion) Week 3 [15 Theaters] Weekend $23K, Average $1,533, Cume $320,548
Foxcatcher (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 5 [79 Theaters] Weekend $401,928, Average $5,088, Cume$3,367,639
The Homesman (Roadside Attractions/Saban Films) Week 5 [223 Theaters] Weekend $380,460, Average $1,706, Cume $1,640,017
Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas (Samuel Goldwyn Films) Week 5 [180 Theaters] Weekend $52,200, Average $290, Cume $2,747,855
Rosewater (Open Road) Week 5 [115 Theaters] Weekend $66,983, Average $582, Cume $3,042,517
The Theory Of Everything (Focus Features) Week 6 [1,220 Theaters] Weekend $2.525M, Average $2,070, Cume $17.148M
Citizenfour (RADiUS) Week 8 [105 Theaters] Weekend $104,723, Average $997, Cume $1,904,730
Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me (Area23a) Week 8 [13 Theaters] Weekend $16,059, Average $1,235, Cume $343,024
Birdman (Fox Searchlight) Week 9 [606 Theaters] Weekend $1.325M, Average $2,186, Cume $20,794,207
Dear White People (Roadside Attractions) Week 9 [30 Theaters] Weekend $25,940, Average $865, Cume $4,330,485
Whiplash (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 10 [154 Theaters] Weekend $263,708, Average $1,712, Cume $4,775,219
Keep On Keepin’ On (RADiUS) Week 12 [3 Theaters] Weekend $700, Average $233, Cume $162,569
Art And Craft (Oscilloscope) Week 13 [2 Theaters] Weekend $1,023, Average $512, Cume $236,251
My Old Lady (Cohen Media Group) Week 14 [18 Theaters] Weekend $3,212, Average $178, Cume $3,962,434
Boyhood (IFC Films) Week 23 [29 Theaters] Weekend $29K, Average $1, Cume $24,089,571