Like a much-awaited Christmas present, Mexican cinema finally hasreceived its much needed box office hit. Romantic comedy Ladies Night debuted Wednesday December 10 to becomethe third largest local opening ever in Mexico.

The first Mexican production of fledgling Disney Latin Americanproduction label, Miravista, Ladies Night opened with $310,000 (3.1m PESOS) representing some 136,000admissions.

Joint distribution venture Columbia TriStar/BVI Mexico releasedthe film on 358 screens, a screencount normally reserved for Hollywood blockbusters and select Mexican films.

It may be several millions of pesos shy of all time blockbuster ElCrimen Del Padre Amarowhich opened with $820,000 (8.2m PESOS) but then again, it did not benefit fromthe raging controversy which drove curious moviegoers to see the priest scandaldrama. The second biggest all time opening is erotic drama The Blue Room, which grossed 4.1m pesos on its debut.

In essence a story of female empowerment, Ladies' Night follows the lives of twofemale friends in modern day Mexico City, one of whom falls in love with the male stripper at her hen party. Directed by LosAngeles-based Argentinian director Gabriella Tagliavini, Ladies Night attracted moviegoers across the board.

"We were expecting mainlyyoung girls to come but we saw retired couples, gays, single young men and evenkids crowding the sold out cinemas," said former BVI marketing senior VP Ignacio Darnaude whose ideaand story treatment inspired the screenplay written by IssaLopez.

Ladies Night is expected to outpace this year's highest grossing Mexicanfilm Nicotina which has grossed $4.5m - representing1.3m admissions to date.

This isTagliavini's second film whose directorial debut in 2001 The Woman Every ManWants garnered severalawards, including Best Director at the New York Independent Film Festival andBest Director at the Latino Film Festival in San Francisco.