"Instructions Not Included," a Spanish-language film with English subtitles, generated $10 million in ticket sales over the four-day Labor Day weekend, a record for a Spanish film in the United States and a sign of the potential the Hispanic market represents for Hollywood.
The film, which stars 52-year-old Mexican TV star Eugenio Derbez as an Acapulco playboy forced to raise a baby girl left on his doorstep, ranked fifth among films in U.S. theaters, despite opening in scant 347 theaters, according to Hollywood.com.
As a result, it generated average ticket sales of $28,818 per screen, more than four times the average of "Lee Daniels' The Butler," the weekend's top film.
(Read more: Hollywood's summer rebound, revenue up 10%)
"No one saw this coming," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box office division of Hollywood.com. "A cute family-oriented concept with a terrific marketing campaign."
The movie is distributed by Pantelion, a joint venture of Hollywood studio Lionsgate Entertainment and Mexican media giant Televisa that intends to tap the Hispanic American moviegoing audience that last year bought 10.9 million tickets or 26 percent of all tickets sold, according to the industry group Motion Picture Association of America.
"Hispanics were the heaviest moviegoers, as they represent 18 percent of the moviegoing population but accounted for 25 percent of all movies seen," said media research company Nielsen in a separate study. "Hispanics were also the only demographic group that went to more movies in 2012 than in the prior year—9.5 movies on average compared with 8.5 in 2011."
To tap that market for "Instructions Not Included," Pantelion put ads on Univision, Telemundo and other Spanish-language channels as well as social media sites like Fandango, Facebook and Youtube that are heavily used by the Hispanic population.