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Last updated: February 19. 2013 3:43PM - 147 Views

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NEW YORK — The weekend box office was not only undeterred by the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, it was buoyed by it.


Disney's Wreck-It Ralph opened strongly with $49.1 million, and Robert Zemeckis' Flight, starring Denzel Washington, soared to a $25 million debut. Both opened above expectations, capitalizing on East Coast audiences looking for distraction amid the recovery from the storm.


Wreck-It Ralph, a 3-D animated family film about a video game villain who tries to break free of his role, is the largest box-office opening ever for Walt Disney Animation, which has produced countless cartoon classics (though doesn't include Disney's lucrative Pixar Animation).


Though the hurricane had forced the closure of hundreds of movie theaters in the New York, New Jersey area, most were open for business by the weekend.


As many as 100 theaters were still closed on Friday, but many of those were restored during the weekend.


We didn't really have a playbook for this, said Hollywood.com box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian.


But the numbers show that audiences across the country, and particularly in the Northeast, wanted to go to the movies and they did.


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