Sony Classics’ Mr. Turner had a near masterpiece of a theatrical debut in limited release, creating director Mike Leigh‘s highest per-theater average for any of his titles opening on multiple screens. But holdovers Inherent Vice from Warner Bros and TWC’s The Imitation Game took the highest and second-highest averages this weekend, while Whiplash, Citizenfour and Force Majeure all passed notable milestones in their on-screen runs.

Mr. Turner, starring Timothy Spall, grossed $108,638 for a $21,728 average in five theaters.

“This is the perfect alternative to the big Hollywood blockbuster,” said SPC co-president Michael Barker. “This movie is really going to cross over. The reason we wanted to become involved with this film years ago is that Turner is the first modern painter. He bridged the gap between the classical and the modern, and his fans range in all ages. Young people are also very interested in seeing this film.”

The strong debut suggests a robust run for Mr. Turner, which Leigh had been trying to make for years before finally securing funding. It is rumored to be his most expensive title to date.

Leigh’s previous film, Another Year, also an SPC release, opened in 2010 in six locations, grossing almost $112K for a $18,645 per theater average. It went on to cume more than $3.2M domestically. His all-time highest-grossing film stateside is Secrets & Lies, which October Films opened in four theaters in 1996. That film only had a $15,203 PTA when it bowed.

mr-turner-posterLeigh’s 2008 title Happy-Go-Lucky (Miramax) grossed over $3.5M in 2008 and 2004’s Vera Drake (Fine Line) grossed over $3.77M (interestingly that film only opened with a $6,603 average in two theaters). His 1999 title Topsy-Turvy (USA Films) grossed over $6.2M, though his U.A. feature All Or Nothing floundered with just a $201,546 gross in 2002. His first film, High Hopes, opened in one location in February 1989 and technically remains his highest PTA opener to date, a $27,964 gross.

Barker said Sunday that SPC will continue to platform Mr. Turner slowly similar to other films it has opened this time of the year with expansions planned for January.

In other openers, Bollywood comedy/drama PK opened day and date in 22 territories around the world this weekend. In North America, distributor UTV said the feature starring Aamir Khan grossed a very solid $3.46 million from 272 theaters for a $12,724 PTA. Globally it was the biggest Bollywood debut of all time. For more information on PK‘s opening, turn to my colleague Nancy Tartaglione’s article . Also this weekend, GKIDS opened Song Of The Sea in one theater, grossing nearly $18K. The film, which is Tomm Moore’s follow-up to his Oscar-nominated The Secret Of Kells, will expand to L.A. January 9 in addition to other major markets in late January. And IFC Films opened Paul Schneider comedy/drama Goodbye To All That in a day and date release. It grossed a slow $1,329 from its exclusive run at IFC Center in New York.

Warner Bros. Inherent Vice had the weekend’s highest PTA of any title in release this weekend. In its second frame, the film by Paul Thomas Anderson grossed $147K for a $29,400 PTA as the title remained in five theaters. The feature – starring Joaquin Phoenix, Katherine Waterston, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Joanna Newsom and Benicio del Toro – had a $66K per-theater average, down 55 percent.

vertical poster Thomas PynchonHis 2012 feature The Master, easily remains his highest PTA opener (over $147K in five theaters). After its limited opening in September of that year, TWC quickly expanded that title, adding 783 theaters in its second weekend. Warner Bros. is letting Vice gestate for now.

In other second-weekend holdovers, China Lion’s Back In Time grossed $93,300 in 19 locations (20 last weekend), averaging $4,911 ($427K cume), while Cohen Media Group’s went down to a single location for Magician: The Astonishing Life And Work Of Orson Welles, grossing $1,758.

The Weinstein Company added 9 runs for its awards hopeful The Imitation Game in its fourth weekend. The film starring starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley grossed just under $895K in 34 theaters for a robust $26,315 PTA. In its third weekend, The Imitation Game averaged $35K from an $875,136 gross. The film had the specialty b.o.’s third-highest opening of the year on a per-theater average, grossing over $479K in 4 theaters, averaging $119,838.

The Imitation Game title cardIn addition to opening Mr. Turner, SPC added 228 theaters for Bennett Miller‘s Foxcatcher in its sixth weekend. The feature grossed $953,563 for a $3,106 PTA. The feature has cumed over $4.43M. Sony Classics’ Whiplash, meanwhile, passed the $5M mark. In its 11th weekend, the feature grossed $196,636 in 111 theaters, averaging $1,771.

NEW
Mr. Turner (Sony Pictures Classics) NEW [5 Theaters] Weekend $108,638, Average $21,728
Song Of The Sea (GKIDS) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $17,967
Goodbye To All That (IFC Films) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $1,329
PK (UTV) NEW [272 Theaters] Weekend $3,461,068, Average $12,724

RETURNING/SECOND WEEKEND
Back In Time (China Lion) Week 2 [19 Theaters] Weekend $93,300, Average $4,911, Cume $427,321
Inherent Vice (Warner Bros.) Week 2 [5 Theaters] Weekend $147K, Average $29,400, Cume $599,705
Magician: The Astonishing Life And Work Of Orson Welles (Cohen Media Group) Week 2 [1 Theaters] Weekend $1,758, Cume $15,622

HOLDOVERS / THIRD+ WEEKENDS
Wild (Fox Searchlight) Week 3 [1,061 Theaters] Weekend $4.15M, Average $3,911, Cume $7,210,737
The Babadook (IFC Midnight) Week 4 [79 Theaters] Weekend $89,902, Average $1,138, Cume $466,742
The Imitation Game (The Weinstein Company) Week 4 [34 Theaters] Weekend $894,700, Average $26,315, Cume $3,191,661
Foxcatcher (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 6 [307 Theaters] Weekend $953,563, Average $3,106, Cume $4,437,619
The Homesman (Roadside Attractions/Saban Films) Week 6 [166 Theaters] Weekend $172,790, Average $1,041, Cume $1,997,457
Rosewater (Open Road) Week 6 [27 Theaters] Weekend $21,019, Average $778, Cume $3,094,144
The Theory Of Everything (Focus Features) Week 7 [1,011 Theaters] Weekend $1.59M, Average $1,573, Cume $19,822,573
Citizenfour (RADiUS) Week 9 [52 Theaters] Weekend $58,085, Average $1,117, Cume $2,040,937
Force Majeure (Magnolia Pictures) Week 9 [40 Theaters] Weekend $39,500, Average $988, Cume $1,015,947
Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me (Area23a) Week 9 [6 Theaters] Weekend $6,063, Average $1,010, Cume $359,639
Birdman (Fox Searchlight) Week 10 [452 Theaters] Weekend $910K, Average $2,013, Cume $22,249,047
Dear White People (Roadside Attractions) Week 10 [13 Theaters] Weekend $11,750, Average $904, Cume $4,342,912
Whiplash (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 11 [111 Theaters] Weekend $196,636, Average $1,771, Cume $5,087,377
Art And Craft (Oscilloscope) Week 14 [2 Theaters] Weekend $1,386, Average $684, Cume $227,934
My Old Lady (Cohen Media Group) Week 15 [10 Theaters] Weekend $5,425, Average $542, Cume $3,979,152
Boyhood (IFC Films) Week 24 [25 Theaters] Weekend $21,525, Average $861, Cume $24,132,363