Batman Begins stayed impressively strong in itssecond weekend on international release, falling off just 36% in its holdoverterritories and performing better than its franchise predecessors in a trio ofnew markets.

And Batman wasn't the only US studio releasedelivering healthy numbers: in spite of continuing hot weather in some Europeancountries, Madagascar scored several more good openings and Mr &Mrs Smith also showed decent legs.

The second week performance by Warner Bros PicturesInternational's latest Batman installment bodes well for the film andthe franchise after a decent but inconclusive day-and-date launch last weekend.

Batman Begins grossed an estimated $26.7m (from 4.5madmissions) from 8,350 screens in 85 markets.

The movie opened in Korea with an estimated $2.1m (350,819admissions) from 201 screens. In Seoul, said Warner Bros, it opened better overtwo days than X-Men and The Last Samurai and much better than allprevious Batman installments.

In Indonesia, Batman Begins opened with an estimated$430,000 from 62 screens and in Portugal it debuted with $388,000 from 80screens.

More significantly, the film fell off by modest amounts inmajor territories where it opened last week.

In the UK, it dropped just 22% to $5.1m from 516 situationsfor a running total of $16.73m. That was a smaller second-week drop, saidWarner Bros, than Mr & Mrs Smith, Spider-Man 2 or Star Wars:Episode III.

In Australia, Batman Begins fell 35% to $2.1m (for a runningtotal of $6.2m); in France it was down 35% to $1.96m (running total $5.4m); inMexico it declined 29% to $1.94m (running total $7.7m); in Spain the gross wasoff 27% to $1.8m (running total $5.1m); in Italy the decrease was 39% to $1.3m(running total $4.6m); and in Germany the gross slipped 45% to $1m (runningtotal $3.4m).

The Japanese gross sagged 39% to $1.6m (running total $4.6m)and in Brazil the $1m estimate (running total $3.4m) represented a waning of37%.

DreamWorks' Madagascar, distributed by UIP, continuedits steady and very successful international roll out, grossing an estimated$18.1m from 3,006 cinemas in 23 territories.

The animated offering opened at the top of local box officecharts in France, Brazil, Belgium and New Zealand. In France it grossed anestimated $3.75 from 735 cinemas and in Brazil it took $2.25m (includingpreviews) from 296 cinemas. According to UIP, the Brazilian opening was 2%better than Shrek 2's and 5% better than that for The Incredibles.

In New Zealand, Madagascar opened with an estimated$955,000 from 60 cinemas and in Belgium it took approximately $725,000 from 103sites.

The film also held up extremely well in territories where itwon out last week over Batman Begins, remaining at number one in Spain,Mexico and Australia.

In Spain, Madagascar's gross dropped only 16% to anestimated $3.0m from 364 cinemas, producing a running total for the territoryof $7.88m (71% ahead of Shark Tale after its first 10 days).

In Australia, Madagascar was down only 22% from lastweekend (excluding previews) with an estimated $2.75m from 260 cinemas (for arunning total of $10.0m).

And in Mexico the estimated gross fell 38% to $3.0m from 366cinemas (running total $10.5m, more than Shark Tale made over its entirerun).

In its second week in the Netherlands, Madagascar wasexpected to drop by 15% to $540,000(for a running total of $1.59m).

Fox International's Mr & Mrs Smith continued toperform well in its third week, grossing an estimated $12.7m from 3,379 screensin 32 Fox territories (the Regency Enterprises film is on release through otherdistributors in Germany, Eastern Europe and the Middle East). The overallweekend figure represented a drop of 42% and brought the movie's cumulativeinternational gross to $90.9m.

The action romance dropped a mere 15% in the UK for anestimated $2.8m from 442 screens and a running total of $18.3m.

The drop was 48% in South Korea, where the film grossed anestimated $2.7m from 307 screens for a total of $10.7m.

In Mexico Mr & Mrs Smith took an estimated $1m -down 33% -- from 593 screens for a $8.9m total; in Australia it took $1.6m -down 29% -- from 338 screens for a $11.6m total; and in Brazil the weekendestimate was $667,000 -- down 36% -- from 327 screens, for a $4.6m total.

In its sixth week on release Fox International's StarWars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith added another $2.5m from 2,452screens in 23 territories to its impressive haul, bringing the internationaltotal to $364.2m.

The only US studio film making its international debut thisweekend was Buena Vista International's (BVI) Herbie: Fully Loaded, therevival of Disney's Love Bug family franchise with Lindsay Lohanstarring.

The comedy adventure opened in Australia (day-and-date withits US launch) to gross an estimated $1.3m, 44% more than 102 Dalmations,said BVI, and almost double the opening of The Pacifier.

Fox International opened The Amityville Horror inFrance and grossed $219,806 from 244 screens, bringing the film's cumulativeinternational take to $17.5m. And the distributor's Guess Who' launchedin Russia with $240,144 from 72 screens, bringing the international take to$16.9m.

Figures for BVI's launches of A Lot Like Love inGermany and the UK were not available at time of writing. Nor were figures forSony Pictures Releasing International's launches of Kung Fu Hustle inthe UK and Russia.