Thailand's first3D animated feature Khan Kluay has emerged as thecountry's biggest animation of all time, grossing $1.96m (75m baht) on 60screens in Bangkok alone in less than three weeks of release.

The $5m surprisehit is about a young elephant who saves the Kingdom of Thailand while on a dangerous quest to save hisherd.

"Thailand's box office for animations hastraditionally been far off from action movies. Finding Nemo was the biggest animation onlywith approximately $1.78m (68m baht)," says Gilbert Lim, executive vicepresident of Sahamongkolfilm International, whichdistributes Khan Kluaydomestically and internationally.

With its May 18opening, Khan Kluay was pitted against The Da Vinci Codewhich opened on the same day, then with X-Men:The Last Stand which opened on its second weekend.

Although USanimated hit Over The Hedge isscheduled to open this week, Lim further expects Khan Kluay to reach $3.14m (120m baht),which will make it one of the top films in Thailand this year. It is also setto travel outside Thailand after receiving strong response at the CannesMarket.

The picture isproduced by Kantana Animation, part of the Kantana Group which operates the country's biggestpost-production services, and directed by Kompin Kemgumnird who has worked in the US on such animations as Ice Age, Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Tarzan.

This also marksthe return of Kantana into film production after an eight-yearhiatus. Its last production was thriller Who'sRunning, directed by Oxide Pang.