Distributor Svensk Filmindustri is giving Vibeke Idsoe's $7.7m feature animation Karlsson On The Roof a blockbuster opening this weekend. It will be released on 173 screens across Norway and Sweden.

It marks the biggest ever simultaneous opening in the two countries for a local production. Even most studio titles are released on fewer than 50 screens - notable exceptions being top US animation films such as Shrek and Toy Story 2.

Ingmar Bergman-favorites such as Pernilla August and Borje Ahlstedt have been cast for the dubbing on the Swedish version, while Norway's biggest TV-star Robert Stoltenberg is expected to draw extra attention to the Norwegian version of Karlsson.

In a year where all Norwegian releases have been box office disappointments, the industry is expecting Karlsson On The Roof, based on Astrid Lindgren's children's classic, to improve a shrinking local market share.

Expectations for its box office performance are therefore high, mostly due to producer John M Jacobsen's track record: Jacobsen has previously packaged some of the territory's all-time local box office hits - among them his previous animation effort Gurin With The Foxtail which generated more than 600,000 admissions and Chasing The Kidneystone, which is among the best local openers. His production outfit Filmkameratene has co-financed the new film with Sweden's Svensk Filmindustri and public support from the Norwegian Film Fund, Eurimages and the Nordic Film & TV-Fund.

Astrid Lindgren, the influential writer of children's books who died in January this year, is best-known as the creator of the free-spirited and disobedient Pippi Longstocking with her distinctive red pigtails and mismatched stockings. Her books have sold over 100 million copies in 80 languages and around 40 films and television series have been based on her works. In Karlsson On The Roof, Karlsson, one of her most popular characters flies off on adventures with a propeller on his back.