A biopic of Pope John Paul II has become a smash hit in Poland - the place of his birth - one month ahead of the firstanniversary of his death.

The film, Pope John Paul II (Jan PawelII), opened top of the Polish chart last weekend (March 3-5) grossing over$1m in its first three days.

Selling 217,731 tickets fora weekend gross of $1.02m (Zloty 3.24m) PopeJohn Paul II was released by Interfilm in theterritory on 140 prints.

The film stars Jon Voight asthe late Pope, Karol Wojtyla, and Cary Elwes as his younger self. Ben Gazzara,Christopher Lee and James Cromwell also feature.

The success comes after lastyear saw Poland's biggest hit delivered by another film about thePope's early life - StoriaDi Carlo (titled Karol in Poland).

That film sold 1.88 million tickets and grossed$7.7m (Zloty 24.4m) after releasing on June 17 in the territory.

Beating allcomers it was Poland's most successful film of 2005. However, its opening was not as strongas Pope John Paul II'sdespite playing on 11 more screens. Storia Di Carlo sold 200,397 tickets from 151 sites over itsfirst three-days for a gross of $895,500 (Zloty 2.8m).

Pope John Paul II, a US-Italian-Polish co-production, screened on television late lastyear in Italy (through Rai) and the US (on CBSTelevision).