After a subpar year for Hollywood's major studios, moviegoers have decided there are a number of reasons to return to the multiplex.  The overall box office was up almost 40% over last weekend as "Wreck-it Ralph" scored with families and Denzel Washington's "Flight" reached a higher altitude than expected.

Walt Disney Animation's "Wreck-it Ralph" pulled in an impressive $49.1 million in 3,752 theaters. The CG comedy featuring the voices of John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman also scored an important A Cinemascore which means good word of mouth should ensue. Barring any unexpected surprises, "Ralph" could gross even more than studio stablemate "Tangled's" $200 million just two years ago.

While "Ralph" was expected to dominate over the weekend, pre-polling for Robert Zemeckis' "Flight" indicated a $15-17 million weekend at best. And, in fact, considering "Flight" opened in only 1,884 theaters that would have been a more than satisfactory start for Paramount's prestige fall player.  Instead, Denzel Washington's star power and strong reviews combined for a massive $25 million opening with an eye-brow raising $13,275 per screen. Washington was already being heralded as a potential best actor nominee for his performance, but this first weekend makes the picture a player for a best picture nomination.

Speaking of potential best picture nominees, Warner Bros.' critically acclaimed "Argo" dropped just 15.2% for another $10.2 million and $75.8 million to date. "Argo" should easily surpass Affleck's previous directorial debut, "The Town," which found $92 million two years ago.

Debuting in fifth place was "The Man with the Iron Fists" $8.2 million. Directed by hip-hop artist RZA, "Fists" had a good $4,400 per screen in just 1,868 theaters, but it's unclear whether it will be able to recoup it's reported $15 million budget theatrically.

This week's new releases include "Skyfall" opening in IMAX on Thursday and nationwide on Friday.  Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" opens in New York and Los Angeles on Friday as well.

Final box officer results are released on Monday.