Torrente 3: The Protector, the third instalment inthe hugely successful local comedy franchise, made history on its openingweekend in Spain.

Thefilm was released September 30 on a gargantuan 465 copies by UIP, whichreporteda record-making Euros 7.2m grossed off 1.38m admissions.

The figuresmark the biggest opening ever for a film ofany nationality in Spain, surpassing prior record holder Star Wars: EpisodeIII's Euros 6.14m. Shrek 2 followed with Euros 6.1m. The biggestSpanish opener to date was Mortadelo & Filemon's Big Adventure withEuros 5.1m.

Spanish cinema can use the boost. So far this year no localfilm has earned more than Euros 5m at the box office except Ridley Scott's KingdomOf Heaven, a Spanish co-production which has earned Euros 11.6m but whoseinclusion in the government statistics for local cinema has caused controversy.

Without Heaven and Breck Eisner's Sahara,another Spanish co-production which has earned Euros 3.67m in Spain, localfilms' market share would fall well below the current 13.3% tallied throughSeptember 5.

The first two Torrente films are among the topgrossing Spanish movies of all time at the local box office, earning acumulative Euros 22.1m (Torrente 2: Mission in Marbella) and Euros 11.6m(Torrente: The Dumb Arm Of The Law). Torrente 2 earned Euros 3.5mon its opening weekend through Lolafilms in 2001.

Inthis third installment in the series - written by, directed by and starringshowman Santiago Segura - a multinational firm, scheming the assassination of abeautiful Italian politician (Yvonne Scio) meddling in company affairs, hiresincompetent detective Torrente as her bodyguard.

Torrente 3: El Protector was produced by MariaLuisa Gutierrez of Segura's own Amiguetes Entertainment. Wild Bunch hasinternational rights.