With the cleanup from Hurricane Sandy underway, fans flocked to re-opened theaters on the East Coast to get a much needed escape from the devastation. The result: One of the busiest weekends in recent memory and a huge win for Disney's new animated feature "Wreck-It Ralph," which conquered the box office to the tune of an estimated $49.1 million.
That marks Disney's biggest non-holiday opening of all time and signals both a renewed creative energy for Disney's non-Pixar animation studio as well as the birth of a new franchise, as these kind of numbers just about guarantee a sequel. The film's "A" Cinemascore and lack of competition from other family films should ensure a long run as well.
"Wreck-It Ralph" wasn't the only new film impressing audiences and critics, though. Denzel Washington's aviation drama "Flight" took in a surprisingly robust $25 million, which is especially impressive given that it debuted in only 1884 locations, barely more than half as many as "Wreck-It Ralph's" 3752 screens. Strong word of mouth and a high per-screen average could keep "Flight" around for awhile as well.
The news wasn't so good, on the other hand, for RZA's new kung-fu epic "The Man with the Iron Fists," which finished a distant fourth behind "Argo" with just $8.2 million in its opening weekend. And Andy and Lana Wachowski's ambitious sci-fi epic "Cloud Atlas" faded even further in its second weekend, dropping to sixth on the charts. With a cumulative total of only $18.2 million so far, the $102 million production looks destined to become a major box office flop.
Here's a look at the full chart, courtesy of Box Office Mojo:
1. "Wreck-It Ralph" - $49.1m (our review)
2. "Flight" - $25m
3. "Argo" - $10.2 (our review)
4. "The Man with the Iron Fists" - $8.2m (our review)
5. "Taken 2" - $6m (our review)
6. "Cloud Atlas" - $5.2m (our review)
7. "Hotel Transylvania" - $4.5m (our review)
8. "Paranormal Activity 4" - $4.3m
9. "Here Comes the Boom" - $3.6m (our review)
10. "Silent Hill: Revelation 3D" - $3.3m (our review)