"Wreck-It Ralph" hammers box office, sails over "Flight"

Sun Nov 4, 2012 3:50pm EST
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By Piya Sinha-Roy and Ronald Grover

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Wreck-It Ralph," Disney's animated film about a videogame character who destroys everything in his path, scored the highest-grossing opening weekend in Disney animation history with $49.1 million, as box office attendance picked up in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy.

The tally for "Wreck-It Ralph," which features the voices of John C. Reilly and Jane Lynch, hammered the Denzel Washington film "Flight," which generated ticket sales of $25 million at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to studio estimates on Sunday.

After a quiet box office last weekend with the U.S. East Coast preparing for superstorm Sandy, there was a jump in movie attendance this week in areas hit by the storm.

Dave Hollis, executive vice president of film distribution at Walt Disney Studios, told Reuters that movie attendance in affected areas was "very healthy," boosted by school closures on Friday, which saw a bounce in matinee showings.

"In a nice way, 'Wreck-It Ralph,' in areas affected by the storm, ended up actually becoming an opportunity to relieve yourself from the reality that might be going on around you, we saw the theater business around areas affected by the storm very healthy," Hollis said.

"The storm and its impact - I don't know if it was a function of cabin fever or just escaping by getting into a movie theater, but there was definitely a gravitating-towards-the- theater phenomenon."

Disney had developed "Wreck-It Ralph" for more than a decade and spent an estimated $165 million to produce the film, which featured cameo appearances by a Pac-Man ghost and Mentos candy.

The film was produced by the same team behind Disney's animated film "Tangled," which earned the previous highest opening weekend gross with $48.8 million in 2010. "Wreck-It Ralph" was forecast to generate sales in the mid-$40 million range, according to Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box office division of Hollywood.com.   Continued...

Actor Will Ferrell (L) and cast member John C. Reilly attend the premiere of the animated film "Wreck-It Ralph" in Los Angeles October 29, 2012. REUTERS/Phil McCarten