BARCELONA — Bucking the gloom and doom of Spain’s plunging box office results, animated-feature “Tad, The Lost Explorer” notched up the second-best opening of the year for a toon pic over Aug. 30 to Sept. 2, just behind “Ice Age: Continental Drift.”

Released by Paramount, “Tad” nabbed a first three-day Euros 2.87 million ($3.6 million). Results were beyond the most optimistic expectations.

Studiocanal handles “Tad’s” international sales outside Spain and Latin America.

In a David-and-Goliath struggle, “Tad” is proving a tough contest for “Brave” and “Ice Age.” “Ice Age” made an opening-frame $3.7 million in July; “Brave” took $2.6 million in August.

Opening on just 469 screens, “Tad” has registered the best first-lap screen-average of the year for a tooner — $7,658 — an all-time record for an animated Spanish film.

“Tad’s” opening is also the second-best of 2012 for a Spanish film, behind teen romancer “I Want You’s” $4.1 million.

Blending a classic adventure yarn and humor, first-timer Enrique Gato’s mainstream family-skewed film could show sturdy legs, according to over-the-moon bookers. One forecast “Tad” will cume around $13 million to $15 million in Spain.

“Tad’s” producers are Ikiru Films, El Toro Pictures, Telecinco Cinema, Intereconomia, Lightbox Ent. and Telefonica Producciones.

Key factors in “Tad’s” success are “a great product and the backing of several media groups,” said Telecinco Cinema CEO Ghislain Barrois.

“The campaign has achieved the near impossible,” added Isabel Garcia, at Catalonia’s Acec multiplex chain.

The right movie at the right time, “Tad” hit wickets as tykes returned from vacation. It now has a clear run at this demo during several weeks with no major competition.