The caped crusader wastedlittle time getting down to business this week as Batman Begins grossed a lofty $15.2m on its first day of release.

Warner Bros opened Christopher Nolan's comic book adaptation in 3,858 theatresscreens at midnight on Weds Jun 15 and studio executives were thrilled with theresult.

That first day gross, combined with snowballing world of mouth and positiveexit polls, suggests Batman Beginswill dethrone 20th Century Fox's action thriller Mr & MrsSmith as the number one picture thisweekend.

Industry observers are hoping the comic book adaptation has the chops togalvanise the domestic box office and lead it out of a 16-week slump that hasseen box office lag behind 2004.

Batman Begins is also expected tobe the number one international release this weekend as it launches onapproximately 8,000 screens in more than 70 markets.

The action picture opened through Warner Bros Pictures International in Franceand Mexico on Jun 15 and was due to go out today in Australia and Germany, followedby the UK and other major markets on Jun 17.