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‘Instructions Not Included’ Stuns With Best Spanish-Language U.S. Box-Office Debut

The Eugenio Derbez family comedy from Lionsgate and Pantelion takes in $10M — on just 347 screens

“Instructions Not Included” did mas with menos and nearly stole the box office show this weekend. The family comedy starring Eugenio Derbez debuted with $10 million, the biggest domestic opening ever for a Spanish-language movie.

Most impressively, the comedy from Lionsgate and Pantelion Films did it on just 347 theaters. That translates to a $28,818 per-screen average, by the far the best of any film in release this weekend. And it received an rare “A+” CinemaScore from first-night audiences.

Derbez, one of Mexico’s most popular comics, also wrote, directed and produced “Instructions Not Included.”

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In the film, he plays an Acapulco playboy who heads to L.A. to search for a former fling who has left a baby on his doorstep. He takes the child with him and they don’t find the mother, but he finds a new life as a Hollywood stuntman, and little Maggie becomes his on-set coach.

Pantelion Films is a joint venture of Lionsgate and Televisa that launched three years ago, and the company took full advantage of its corporate tie-ins to produce its breakout hit.

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The marketing campaign primarily targeted Hispanic adults aged 18-49 and kicked off in July, when Derbez received a lifetime achievement award on “Premios Juventud,” an annual awards show on the Univision network that drew 10 million viewers. Since then he’s made numerous guest appearances on the network’s shows and for the past two weeks has toured the U.S. promoting the film.

“We knew from test screenings that we had a winner, but I’d be lying if didn’t say we were surprised at this kind of success,” Pantelion Chief Executive Paul Presburger told TheWrap on Sunday.

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“For us, this opening sort of validates everything we’e been trying to do” Presburger said. “Jon (Feltheimer, Lionsgate’s chief executive) has been behind us and passionate all along, so it’s great to see it pay off.”

Numbers weren’t available on Monday morning, but Presburger said “Instructions” played to a predominantly young and obviously Hispanic crowd. Next weekend, when the film expands to 500 or more screens, the studio will look to broaden the base.

“A lot of people say they don’t want to see movies with subtitles, but we think this is a special film,” Presburger said.