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Wreck it Ralph: Biggest box-office opening ever for Disney animation

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With many East Coast children out of school on Friday, Disney saw an uptick of business for Friday matinees to the well-reviewed "Wreck-It Ralph."

"'Wreck-It Ralph' became something of a distraction and an opportunity for families to do something separate of the storm," said Dave Hollis, Disney's head of distribution. "Schools being shut down on Friday also played a role as parents were looking for things to entertain the kids and keep them out of the cold."

Paramount's "Flight," which had a smaller opening — 1,884 theaters, or about half the number of "Wreck-It Ralph" — might have been expected to be more harmed by Sandy, considering adult dramas generally depend heavily on the New York City market. But the film, which has found critical raves and Oscar buzz, proved particularly enticing to moviegoers, many of whom were surely pulled in by the star power of Washington, who plays an airline pilot of both heroic skill and debilitating alcoholism.

"When you look up his filmography — it doesn't matter whether it was yesterday or 20 years ago — Denzel opens movies," said Paramount distribution head Don Harris.

Harris said the studio counted only about 15 theaters lost to "Flight" due to power outages.

Aside from the draw of Washington, "Flight" is also the first live-action film in 12 years for Zemeckis. The director, whose films include the "Back to the Future" trilogy and "Cast Away," had spent the last decade on performance-capture animated films like "The Polar Express" and "A Christmas Carol." Harris called the return "spectacular" and said: "It's almost like: Where have you been?"

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