In what must amount to a pleasant surprise, the box office roared back to life this weekend after many theaters were closed because of Hurricane Sandy. Wreck-It Ralph did nearly $50 Million, while Flight performed stronger than expected. People wanted to go to the movies this weekend.

Film Weekend Per Screen Total
1 Wreck-It Ralph $49,100,000 $13,086 $49,100,000
2 Flight $25,010,000 $13,275 $25,010,000
3 Argo $10,245,000 (-15.2) $3,693 $75,896,000
4 The Man With the Iron Fists $8,219,000 $4,400 $8,219,000
5 Taken 2 $6,000,000 (-22.2)
$2,274 $125,667,000
6 Cloud Atlas $5,250,000 (-45.4) $2,608 $18,262,000
7 Hotel Transylvania $4,500,000 (-52.4) $1,540 $137,568,000
8 Paranormal Activity 4 $4,300,000 (-49.5) $1,430 $49,577,000
9 Here Comes the Boom $3,600,000 (-30.9) $1,556 $35,572,000
10 Silent Hill: Revelation $3,300,000 (-58.9) $1,125 $13,900,000

Ralph exceeded all expectations, so much so that it’s quite possible that people thought they were getting a Pixar film. All word is that the film plays like gangbusters, so it’s likely to do over $150 Million when all is said and done. It also opened slightly better than Tangled, which was Disney’s last big November hit. With the expense of these movies, that means it will require strong international numbers to make a profit, but it’s possible that the picture could weather the next couple weeks well and sneak closer to $200 domestic.

Flight opened within Denzel Washington‘s normal patterns, but that it was only on 1,800 screens instead of over 2,000 makes it look all the more impressive. Though we may see it take a hit next week with the release of Skyfall, it’s the only movie with a black lead (other than Iron Fists) opening for the rest of the month so that could help it, but the the film isn’t an easy sell. Roger Ebert went four stars, so it’s possible it won’t be that divisive, but the best result would be a $100 Million total.

The Man with the Iron Fists did about what should be expected. It may get to around $25 Million when it finishes up, but I wouldn’t expect the film to be in many theaters after Thanksgiving. Argo is holding and holding strong. At this point getting over $100 Million is likely and it could get awards bumps. The biggest element working against the film awards-wise is that there’s no standout performance, and at the end of the day, Affleck’s leading role is more of a cypher than a great performance. If he or any of the supporting players get nominations, it’s likely the film will win big.

Also holding well is Taken 2, which will get much closer to the original film’s $145 Million domestic take than it looked like it would. It’s unlikely the film will make another $20 Million domestically, but the sequel played much stronger than the original did, so it’s already made $100 Million more than the first film globally. Cloud Atlas is done, and will only do about $25 Million domestic – if it’s really lucky $30 Million. It was just too weird.

The holiday season is upon us, so expect big numbers over the next couple weeks.

Reality Check: I thought people wouldn’t be as motivated to go to the theaters as they obviously were. It’s hard to know how people want to escape after a national disaster. It looks like people wanted to go to the movies.

What did you watch this weekend?