Disney's 3D toon expected to earn $50 mil in opening frame as East Coasters seek relief from storm aftermath

Disney will make short work of the competition this weekend as 3D toon “Wreck-It Ralph” earned $13.4 million Friday and is expected to land close to $50 million this frame.

Much as it has done historically, the cinema is providing catharsis or escape for weather-beaten East Coasters this weekend, according to insiders. Sandy-affected markets, which can contribute as much as a quarter of the gross of a Disney film’s domestic bow, may actually support the toon’s haul this frame rather than hold it back.

At the same time, Paramount’s “Flight” is off to a strong start with $8.2 million from Friday. Pic, the first live-action offering from helmer Robert Zemeckis since 2000’s “Castaway,” earned 89% of Friday’s figure from over-25 auds, a high showing from a demo that doesn’t generally hit plexes in huge numbers on Fridays.

“Flight” is looking at a three-day in the low $20 million range, beating pre-weekend expectations that had it in the teens.

Some of that can likely be attributed to Warner Bros.’ “Argo,” which set the groundwork for more adult films this fall. By comparison, “Argo” earned $19 million its opening weekend, and has shown remarkable holds ever since. This Friday it grossed $3 million, down just 25% from last Friday. It has cumed $68.6 million thus far.

And the frame’s final major opener, Universal’s “The Man With the Iron Fists,” earned $3.1 million, putting it in third place with a slight edge over “Argo” that won’t likely hold through Sunday. At a $15 million price tag, the martial arts film reps a low risk for Uni and should earn about half its budget back at the Stateside B.O. this frame.

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