As expected, The Tiger and The Snow, the new filmfrom Italy's top grossing comic Roberto Benigni, landed at number one at thelocal box office on its opening weekend, earning $3,740,934 for Rai Cinemalabel 01 Distribution.

However, with noother major pictures opening over the weekend, some local analysts felt thefilm underperformed - notwithstanding a major strike in the Italian filmindustry, which shut all cinemas across the country on October 14 and delayed The Tiger and The Snow's release on 754screens by one day.

The Tiger and The Snow also had to contend with primaryelections in Italy on Sunday, which sent 3 million people to the voting polls.

The Tiger and The Snow beat competition from The Exorcism of Emily Rose, which has grossed $3,890,947 inhorror-loving Italy after two weeks.

However, the Benignifilm's screen average - at $4,961 - was strong but far off the opening resultsof the Tuscan comic's previous film, Pinocchio.

Pinocchio smashed all previous box office records inItaly in 2002, with the fairytale earning a massive $6.9m on its first weekend,after opening on an unprecedented 940 screens. The picture went on to take amassive $31,371,408 (Euros 26,197,231) in Italy.

In the meantime,Giancarlo Leone, head of Rai Cinema, said he was pleased with The Tiger and The Snow's opening. "Theresults are absolutely as expected. I am happy, it as a great resultconsidering the strike, which we completely supported. This will be a film thatwill have a long run at the box office."

The Tiger and The Snow stars the two-time AcademyAward-winner as a poet desperately trying to woo back the woman of his dreamswhen he suddenly finds himself with her in Iraq in the middle of the Iraq war.It also stars Jean Reno and Emilia Fox.