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.
The 3D toon 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.
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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.
The weekend's other new films are Flight, directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Denzel Washington, and kung fu pic The Man With the Iron Fists, which marks the directorial debut of RZA. It's too early to tell how the aftermath of the storm is impacting the two films.
Flight should open in the $12 million to $15 million range for the weekend. Paramount is only opening the film in 1,900 theaters since it is an adult drama. Flight is the studio's prime awards contender.
Wreck-It Ralph could score the top non-holiday opening for a Disney Animation Studios title. Directed by Rich Moore, the toon 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, a no no. The voice cast also includes Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch.
All three new films have received strong reviews.