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Get to know 'Instructions Not Included' star Eugenio Derbez

Over the weekend, Mexican comedy Instructions Not Included continued its incredible box office run, finishing in third place in only 717 theaters. The film, about an Acapulco playboy who’s forced to raise a daughter he didn’t know he had, has now grossed over $21 million, and thanks to its “A+” CinemaScore grade, it’s poised to surpass Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth as the highest-grossing Spanish-language film ever in the U.S.

We sat down with Instructions‘ writer/director/star Eugenio Derbez to get his perspective on its runaway success north of the border.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Well, you must be having a great week.
EUGENIO DERBEZ: I’ve been going back and forth from L.A. to Miami, Chicago to New York, but I’m really, really happy. Yesterday [I] was [on] Larry King, and today Jimmy Fallon, so I couldn’t ask for more.
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How Spanish-language comedy 'Instructions Not Included' became a box office sensation

Heading into Labor Day weekend, box office prognosticators were fixated on the impending battle between One Direction: This Is Us and Lee Daniels’ The Butler. But as it turned out, the story of the weekend wasn’t those films (or Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez’s bomb, Getaway) at all. Instead, everyone was talking about the Spanish-language film Instructions Not Included, which stunned Hollywood with its muy bien $10.4 million debut from only 347 theaters. That’s by far the best debut ever for a Spanish-language film in the States, as well as the third best foreign language opening of all time, behind Chinese releases Hero and Jet Li’s Fearless, both of which opened in over 1,800 theaters.

The comedy, which stars Mexican superstar Eugenio Derbez (whom you may know from Adam Sandler’s Jack & Jill or Rob Schneider’s canceled sitcom ¡Rob!), tells the story of an Acapulco playboy whose life is rocked when an old fling leaves a baby on his doorstep. The feature notched a sizzling $29,823 per theater average — the best result in the Top 50 by a factor of four, and now distributor Pantelion, a company created in 2010 by Lionsgate and Latin American television conglomerate Televisa, plans on expanding the film into at about 550 theaters this weekend. It’s already the fledgling studio’s biggest success ever, having surpassed Will Ferrell’s Spanish-language comedy Casa De Mi Padre, which took in $5.9 million in America and $8 million worldwide.

“It’s a bit of a whirlwind for us,” says Pantelion CEO Paul Presburger “We started the company a few years ago, and I’ve always felt like we’re scratching the surface.” The exec says Pantelion had a hunch that Instructions, which cost just over $5 million to produce, would connect with moviegoers after a round of test screenings earlier this year, but he admits, “I would be fibbing if I said I was expecting a $10 million opening weekend.”

Here’s why he says the family film scored over Labor Day weekend: READ FULL STORY

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