An early November surge saw the North American top 12 climb 53% against last weekend and gain 20% on the comparable session in 2011 as Buena Vista’s highly regarded animation stormed to the top.

John C Reilly and Sarah Silverman lead the voice cast for Wreck-It Ralph, which appears to have hit gold with the video game homage – a storyline that the animation community has been trying to crack for years.

Paramount’s strong awards contender Flight opened in second place through Paramount on a terrific $25m from 1,884 theatres. The film’s budget was approximately $31m and played equally across the gender divide and drew 89% of its audience from the over-25s.

It emerged over the last few days at the AFM that Paramount offloaded select territories on Flight to Sierra/Affinity to mitigate risk, a reasonable move given the film’s dark tone. The sales agent has struck distribution deals with StudioCanal for Germany and German-speaking Switzerland and Tripictures with Spain and Spanish-speaking Andorra.

Flight director Robert Zemeckis returns to live action for the first time since Cast Away in 2000. Denzel Washington stars as an airline pilot whose extraordinary mid-air manoeuvre during an emergency inadvertently sheds light on his alcoholism.

Argo fell two places to number three and stands at $75.9m after four weekends through Warner Bros. Universal released the action tale The Man With The Iron Fists in fourth place on $8.2m.

Cloud Atlas fell four places to number six in its second weekend through Warner Bros and stands at $18.3m.

In the limited arena, eOne Films North America launched the drama A Late Quartet on $76,000 from nine theatres, while Roadside Attractions opened eco-horror The Bay on $21,400 from 23 and RADiUS-TWC opened Sundance 2011 comedy The Details on $20,000 from 14.

The Weinstein Company opened Paolo Sorrentino’s This Must Be The Place starring Sean Penn on $7,100 from two sites. Anchor Bay launched Vamps on $500 from a single screen.

Next weekend’s wide release is Sony/MGM’s international box office sensation Skyfall, starring Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ben Whishaw and Naomie Harris.

Estimated Top 10 North America Nov 2-4 2012
Film (Dist) / Est wkd gross / Est total to date

1 (-) Wreck-It Ralph (Buena Vista) WDSMPI $49.1m –

2 (-) Flight (Paramount) PPI-Sierra/Affinity $25m –

3 (1) Argo (Warner Bros) WBPI $10.2m $75.9m

4 (-) The Man With The Iron Fists (Universal) UPI $8.2m –

5 (6) Taken 2 (Fox/EuropaCorp) Fox Int’l / EuropaCorp $6m $125.7m

6 (2) Cloud Atlas (Warner Bros) FFI $5.3m $18.3m

7 (3) Hotel Transylvania (Sony) SPRI $4.5m $137.6m

8 (4) Paranormal Activity 4 (Paramount) PPI $4.3m $49.6m

9 (7) Here Comes The Boom (Sony) SPRI $3.6m $35.6m

10 (5) Silent Hill: Revelation 3D (Open Road) Lionsgate Int’l $3.3m $13.9m