Disney's Wreck-It Ralph performed towards the higher end of expectations this weekend with an estimated first place take of $49.1 million. If the estimate holds, the big-budget video game themed 3D computer animated film will have delivered the largest non-Pixar animated debut ever for Disney (without adjusting for ticket-price inflation). The previous high mark for the studio was the $48.77 million opening weekend take of 2010's Tangled. In comparison to other recent films, Wreck-It Ralph opened 7 percent stronger than the $46.02 million start of 2010's Megamind and 11.5 percent stronger than the $44.03 million start of 2010's TRON: Legacy.
With Wreck-It Ralph having received a strong A rating on CinemaScore, it is likely that the film will hold up well throughout November, though holdovers as a whole could very well take a significant hit next weekend from the highly anticipated debut of Sony's Skyfall. After opening with $13.42 million on Friday, Wreck-It Ralph generated an opening weekend to Friday ratio of 3.66 to 1, which is also a good sign for the film going forward.
Internationally, Wreck-It Ralph grossed $12.0 million form just 6 foreign territories this weekend. That places the film's worldwide launch at $61.1 million.
Paramount's Flight was off to a very impressive take off of its own this weekend with a second place estimated start of $25.0 million. The modestly budgeted Denzel Washington vehicle directed by Robert Zemeckis delivered a strong per-location average of $13,275 from 1,884 locations. While Flight ultimately debuted in the same neighborhood as a number of Washington's previous films, pre-release expectations for the film had been softened a bit once the film's relatively modest location count had been announced. Flight opened 10 percent stronger than the $22.69 million start of Unstoppable back in November of 2010. With the aid of an A- rating on CinemaScore, Flight will hope to hold up well going forward in the face of the upcoming competition from Skyfall. Flight could also be helped going forward thanks in part to skewing quite heavily towards older moviegoers (89 percent of its audience was over 25).
Two strong debuts weren't enough to slow Warner's Argo down this weekend. The awards season hopeful starring and directed by Ben Affleck fell just 15 percent to place in third with an estimated $10.25 million. Thanks to tremendous holding power (the film already boasts a total gross to opening weekend ratio of 3.90 to 1) Argo has grossed $75.90 million in 24 days of release. That leaves the film just $24.10 million away from reaching the $100 million domestic milestone and places the film an impressive 3 percent ahead of the $73.85 million 24-day take of 2010's The Town.
Universal's The Man with the Iron Fists debuted in fourth place with an estimated $8.2 million. The low-budget martial arts action film starring Russell Crowe and directed by RZA debuted in line with its modest pre-release expectations. The Man with the Iron Fists opened 25 percent stronger than the $6.54 million start of Crowe's most recent wide release, 2010's The Next Three Days, but was still soft by Crowe's prior box office standards. The film's audience breakdown skewed towards males (64 percent) and towards moviegoers under 30 (53 percent). With a C+ CinemaScore rating, a genre that is typically front-loaded and Skyfall on the near horizon, The Man with the Iron Fists is likely to fall off quickly going forward.
On the international front, Skyfall grossed a massive $156 million internationally this weekend. That brings the film's ten-day international total to $287 million. Key international debuts included $23.9 million in Germany, $7.9 million in Italy, $6.7 million in Spain, $5.3 million in Switzerland and $5.1 million in India. Second weekend grosses included $25.7 million in the United Kingdom, $14.3 million in France and $5.2 million in Russia.