Box Office Report: East Coast Strong as 'Wreck-It Ralph' Opens Big

2:12 PM PST 11/02/2012 by Pamela McClintock

UPDATED: The Disney toon is doing big business in the Northeast as families look for a distraction from the aftermath of superstorm Sandy; new Denzel Washington drama "Flight" also overperforming as it opens across the country.

With most theaters now reopen on the East Coast, Disney's Wreck-It Ralph is off to a strong start at the Friday box office for a weekend debut in the $45 million and $50 million range.

Robert Zemeckis' adult drama Flight, starring Denzel Washington, also is off to a pleasing start and could hit $20 million in its debut. Paramount is only opening the awards contender -- which is expected to come in No. 2 -- in 1,900 theaters. Awards darling Argo opened to $19.5 million from 3,232 screens.

Wreck-It Ralph is overperforming in the Northeast, where the majority of the 300 theaters closed earlier in the week because of superstorm Sandy are once again selling tickets. Those that remain closed are in areas of lower Manhattan, New Jersey and Long Island where there is no power.

The 3D toon could score the top non-holiday opening for a Disney Animation Studios title.

Directed by Rich Moore, Wreck-It Ralph tells the story of an arcade game villain -- voiced by John C. Reilly -- who is sick of playing the bad guy and begins game jumping, which is forbidden. The voice cast also includes Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch.

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Some of the top performing theaters for Wreck-It Ralph so far are AMC Loews 84th St. on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and the AMC Garden State 16 in Paramus, N.J.

Box office observers say with kids out of school and parents out of work because of the storm, going to the movies is an obvious distraction.

Early Friday evening, power was restored to parts of lower Manhattan, with Regal able to reopen its Union Square theater -- one of the top cinemas in the country.

Flight is doing its strongest business in the Southeast and West.

The weekend's other new film is kung fu pic The Man With the Iron Fists, which marks the directorial debut of RZA.

All three new films have received strong reviews.

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