’Wreck-It-Ralph’ Earns Disney $49 Million at Box Office

“Wreck-It Ralph,” Walt Disney Co. (DIS)’s 3-D animated film about video-game characters, was the top movie in U.S. and Canadian theaters, taking in a record $49 million in sales for the studio label.

“Flight,” featuring Denzel Washington as a pilot who averts a major airline disaster, was second with $24.9 million in its debut, researcher Hollywood.com Box-Office said today in an e-mailed statement. “The Man With the Iron Fists,” with Russell Crowe, opened in fourth with $7.9 million.

“Wreck-It Ralph” is Disney’s first to finish at No. 1 since “Brave” opened in that spot in June. As of Nov. 1, the studio ranked fourth among its peers this year with $1.22 billion in domestic box-office receipts, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com. Sony Corp. (6758) is No. 1 with $1.52 billion,

“Disney’s animation division has had ups and downs of late, but this film was perfectly marketed and benefited from being a brand new family film at the start of the holiday movie season,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Hollywood.com Box-Office.

The sales for the label, Walt Disney Animation Studios, beat the record set by “Tangled” ($48.8 million) in 2010. The parent company also owns Pixar and Marvel studios, among others.

In “Wreck-It Ralph,” John C. Reilly provides the voice of the title character, who grows weary of playing the villain in a vintage arcade video game.

Denzel Washington

Ralph seeks fame by entering newer titles. His adventures include a stint in a combat game and a sleek racing title. The film also features the voices of Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch and Jack McBrayer. The movie was made for about $165 million, according to Box Office Mojo, an industry website that forecasts $51 million in opening-weekend sales.

In “Flight,” from Viacom Inc. (VIAB)’s Paramount Pictures, Washington’s character crash lands his plane after a midair collision, saving most of his passengers and crew.

His status as a hero is questioned as details about his personal life emerge. The film, directed by Robert Zemeckis, also features Don Cheadle, Kelly Reilly and John Goodman.

“‘Flight’ did a lot better than a lot of people thought it would, and it proves once again that Denzel Washington is still a major box office draw,” Dergarabedian said.

The martial-arts film “The Man With the Iron Fists” stars Crowe as one of several warriors battling for power and wealth in a feudal Chinese town. The film, from Comcast Corp. (CMCSA)’s Universal Pictures, also features Lucy Liu. Robert Diggs, also known as Rza, directed the film and also takes a key role.

‘Taken 2’

Returning films rounded out the top five this past weekend.

“Argo,” about the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, fell to third from first, taking in $10.2 million for Time Warner Inc. (TWX)’s Warner Bros. Ben Affleck, who directed the film, plays a CIA operative who rescues Americans stranded in the Iranian capital, Tehran.

Considered a probable Oscar nominee, the film is based on the true story of a mission by the CIA and Canadian diplomats to sneak six Americans out of Iran after the takeover of the U.S. Embassy. They do so by pretending to make a movie.

“Taken 2,” from Fox, was fifth with $5.9 million. The film is a sequel to the 2009 Liam Neeson action film.

Weekend revenue for the top 12 films rose 20 percent to $124.6 million from the year-earlier period, Hollywood.com said. Domestic film sales this year have risen 4 percent to $8.89 billion, with attendance up 2.8 percent.

“A lot of people thought that with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy that it would impact theater going, but we had a stronger weekend compared to the same time last year,” Dergarabedian said. “A very strong film lineup fueled a very robust box office.”

The amounts below are based on actual ticket sales from Nov. 2 to Nov. 4.

                       Rev.            Avg./   Pct.   Total
Movie                 (mln)  Theaters  Theater Chg.   (mln)  Wks
 1 WRECK-IT RALPH     $49.0   3,752  $13,070    --    $49.0    1
 2 FLIGHT              24.9   1,884   13,217    --     24.9    1
 3 ARGO                10.2   2,774    3,680   -16     75.9    4
 4 MAN WITH IRON FISTS  7.9   1,868    4,235    --      7.9    1
 5 TAKEN 2              5.9   2,639    2,243   -23    125.6    5
 6 CLOUD ATLAS          5.4   2,013    2,672   -44     18.4    2
 7 HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA   4.4   2,922    1,509   -53    137.5    6
 8 PARANORMAL ACTIVITY  4.3   3,006    1,415   -50     49.5    3
 9 HERE COMES THE BOOM  3.5   2,314    1,525   -32     35.5    4
10 SILENT HILL          3.3   2,993    1,098   -59     13.9    2
11 PITCH PERFECT        3.1   1,502    2,040   -22     55.6    6
12 SINISTER             2.7   1,882    1,453   -45     44.3    4

Top 12 Films Grosses

   This Week     Year Ago      Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
    $124.6        $103.6       +20

Year-to-date Revenue

     2012          2011
      YTD           YTD        Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
    $8,886        $8,548      +4.0

Year-to-date Attendance:     +2.8%

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael White in Los Angeles at mwhite8@bloomberg.net Cordell Eddings in New York at ceddings@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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