"The Master" got off to a strong start at Friday's box office, grossing $242,127 for an impressive $48,425 per-screen average, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The take puts the film, inspired by the life of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, on pace to break art house records for opening weekend ticket revenue.

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, "The Master" stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams. It has been widely praised by critics, although some have criticized the movie for not providing viewers with enough answers.

Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" was the previous record-holder for opening weekend art house box office location average. It took in $522,996 in its opening weekend back in May, but only played on four screens, giving it a $43,082 location average.

"Resident Evil: Retribution," which stars Milla Jovovich as a zombie-fighter, took the overall weekend box office lead, grossing $8.4 million on Friday.

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  • Anthony Lane (New Yorker)

    On reflection, and despite these cavils, we should bow to The Master, because it gives us so much to revere, <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/cinema/2012/09/17/120917crci_cinema_lane" target="_hplink">starting with the image that opens the film and recurs right up to the end</a>.

  • Karina Longworth (Village Voice)

    It's a film of breathtaking cinematic romanticism and near-complete denial of conventional catharsis. You might wish it gave you more in terms of comfort food pleasure, <a href="http://www.villagevoice.com/2012-09-12/film/the-master-paul-thomas-anderson-film-review/" target="_hplink">but that's not Anderson's problem</a>.

  • Linda Holmes (NPR)

    Gorgeous to look at and <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2012/09/11/160927341/tiff-12-strong-performances-highlight-paul-thomas-andersons-the-master?ft=1&f=1045" target="_hplink">an absolute feast of strong and interesting acting</a>.

  • Calum Marsh (Slant Magazine)

    The Master is Paul Thomas Anderson with the edges sanded off, <a href="http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/the-master/6501" target="_hplink">the best bits shorn down to nubs</a>.

  • Scott Tobias (AV Club)

    It's a feisty, contentious, deliberately misshapen film, designed to challenge and frustrate audiences looking for a clean resolution. <a href="http://www.avclub.com/articles/the-master,84866/" target="_hplink">Just because it's over doesn't mean it's settled</a>.

  • Katey Rich (CinemaBlend.com)

    The Master is unforgettable, but like the mercurial men at its center, the harder you try to read into it, <a href="http://www.cinemablend.com/reviews/The-Master-6016.html" target="_hplink">the more it slips away into the distance</a>.

  • Christy Lemire (Associated Press)

    In his first film since the 2010 performance-art stunt of "I'm Still Here," <a href="http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/sep/10/review-andersons-gorgeous-challenging-master/" target="_hplink">Phoenix once again digs deep to mine his character's inner torment and comes up with a mix of haunting quirks and tics</a>.

  • Lou Lumenick (New York Post)

    It's a sharply written, unforgettably directed character study <a href="http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/movies/cult_hit_yYhSsDuGHem6QoS3QLwebL?utm_medium=rss&utm_content=Movies" target="_hplink">with brilliant performances by Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams</a>...

  • Peter Travers (Rolling Stone)

    I believe in the church of Paul Thomas Anderson. Fierce and ferociously funny, The Master is a great movie, <a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/reviews/the-master-20120910" target="_hplink">the best of the year so far, and a new American classic</a>.

  • David Edelstein (New York Magazine)

    Anderson is a romantic who has earned his nihilism. He clarifies nothing, <a href="http://www.vulture.com/2012/09/edelstein-on-the-master.html" target="_hplink">but leaves us brooding on our own confusion</a>.

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