B.O. Roundup, November 2-4: 'Wreck-It Ralph' and 'Flight' Wreck It, Fly

Sunday, 04 November 2012 11:35 Written by  Jordan DeSaulnier
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B.O. Roundup, November 2-4: 'Wreck-It Ralph' and 'Flight' Wreck It, Fly

An existentially confused video game villain and an alcoholic pilot led the domestic box office for the first weekend of November 2012, with new releases Wreck-It Ralph and Flight opening atop the heap.  The devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast and the cultural feeding frenzy that is Tuesday's presidential election, the twelve biggest movies in country produced a weekend that was up 20% from the corresponding weekend last year.

The biggest portion of that cumulative haul was claimed by Disney Animation's latest 3D release, Wreck-It Ralph.  The feature directorial debut of The Simpsons and Futurama vet Rich Moore has earned $49.1 million over the weekend, according to Disney's estimates. 

Following an 8-bit arcade character who goes on a quest through multiple gaming worlds, Wreck-It Ralph appealed broadly to the familial crowd that frequents animated features, but with the inclusion of many a video game fixture from multiple gaming generations, it also managed to connect with grown-up audiences who don't ordinarily show up for anthropomorphized animals and the like.  Though 68% of the audience consisted of families, strong business during later shows not frequented by families demonstrates the movie's crossover appeal. 

Between Wreck-It Ralph and 2010's Tangled, Disney Animation is on an upswing, earning both critical adulation and solid box office even without Pixar brand.  It's worth noting, however, that Wreck-It Ralph certainly feels like a Pixar film, balancing sharp wit, earnest emotion, and immersive animation in a manner that recalls the Toy Story movies.

While Disney's new release has some crossover appeal, its primary audience is still families.  Flight, in contrast, is very much a movie for adults and almost 90% of tickets were sold to moviegoers over twenty five years old.  The grown-ups managed to propel the film to second place with an estimated $25.01 million.  That impressive number is made considerably more impressive by the fact that Flight is playing 1,884 locations compared to the 3,752 of Wreck-It Ralph or even the 2,774 of Argo, which brought it's total to $75.8 million in its fourth weekend of release.

Flight was powered by a strong marketing effort, the presence of star Denzel Washington, and the directorial chops of Robert Zemeckis.  The film is Zemeckis's first live-action effort since 2000's Cast-Away, and its performance this weekend demonstrates that despite twelve years making motion capture movies like Beowulf and The Polar Express, Zemeckis can still hit that commercial and critical sweet spot.

This weekend's third wide release, The Man With the Iron Fists, debuted in fourth place with an estimated $8.2 million from 1,868 locations.  Wu-Tang Clan mastermind RZA's first movie as director, co-writer, and star is an unapologetic whirlwind of kung-fu craziness bound to alienate many a moviegoer, but the movie managed to find its audience.  Its opening is in line with Universal's expectations, but given that Skyfall is set to monopolize the action crowd next weekend, The Man With the Iron Fists probably won't be able to maintain over the coming weeks.

Here are the top ten movies in America for the weekend of November 2-4, along with their estimated grosses:

1. Wreck-It Ralph                               $49.1 million        New Release

2. Flight                                              $25.0 million        New Release

3. Argo                                                $10.2 million        $75.8 million

4. The Man With the Iron Fists          $8.2 million         New Release

5. Taken 2                                           $6.0 million         $125.6 million

6. Cloud Atlas                                      $5.2 million         $18.2 million

7. Hotel Transylvania                          $4.5 million         $137.5 million

8. Paranormal Activity 4                     $4.3 million         $49.5 million

9. Here Comes the Boom                    $3.6 million         $35.5 million

10. Silent Hill: Revelation                   $3.3 million         $13.9 million

As mentioned, the upcoming Friday will see a wide release for the hugely hyped 23rd James Bond movie Skyfall, along with a limited release for Steven Spielberg's Lincoln.

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