Batman Begins grossed an estimated $41.7m over the weekend from 8,000 screens in 73territories, making it the latest in a series of wide day-and-date openers totop the international box office chart.
The international take (achieved over five days insome territories) added to an impressive domestic gross -- $71.1m -- to givethe Warner Bros franchise movie a $112.8 worldwide total. But the internationaltake was limited by some strong showings from last week's top internationalperformer, Mr & Mrs Smith, some powerful openings by Madagascarand hot weather that Warner suggests pulled European business down by as muchas 25%-30%.
Veronica Kwan-Rubinek, Warner Bros' president ofinternational distribution, described Batman Begins' internationalperformance as "a very good start. The reaction to the film, critically as wellas from the audience, has been really terrific so we're well positioned to playover the holidays [which are just beginning in territories such as Australiaand France]."
Steered by British director Christopher Nolan andstarring UK-born Christian Bale, the darkly dramatic but enthusiasticallyreviewed film, intended to revive the DC Comics-derived franchise, did best inthe UK, grossing an estimated $7.8m from 514 situations to top the nation'schart.
The opening was the third biggest in the UK thisyear, said Warner Bros, and beat the first weekend takes of Mr & MrsSmith, Ocean's Twelve and Pirates of the Caribbean.
Batman Begins was also number one in Italy, with $2.2m from 580 prints, and Germany,with $1.8m from 674 prints.
In France, the film grossed $3.0m from 681 screensbut was beaten to top spot by a local release. And in Spain it took $2.5m from455 prints but was beaten out by Madagascar.
Madagascaralso clipped Batman's wings in Mexico, though the Caped Crusader still achieveda strong estimated five-day total of $4.2m from 643 prints (and beat thethree-day showings of The Matrix Revolutions and X-Men, amongothers).
Warner Bros took the number one spot in Brazil, with$1.6m from 324 prints, and Argentina, with $422,000 from 106 prints.
In Japan, traditionally a difficult territory forWestern comic book adaptations, Batman Begins earned top chart placingwith $2.9m from 581 prints (85% ahead of X-Men 2).
And in Australia it grossed an estimated $3.1m from360 prints but once again was beaten by Madagascar.
Fox International's Mr & Mrs Smith,launched in 35 territories last weekend, grossed an estimated $22.1m from 3,950locations in 39 Fox territories this weekend (the Regency Enterprises film ison release through other distributors in Germany, Eastern Europe and the MiddleEast). The performance brought the running total for Fox territories to $68m.
Grossing an estimated - and chart-topping -- $5.2mfrom 348 locations, the spy romp gave Fox its biggest opening ever in SouthKorea. It also opened at number one in South Africa (with $636,000 from 71locations), Denmark and Israel.
Mr & Mrs Smith produced strong second-week grosses in the UK ($3.3m from 445 locations,for a running total of $14.2m), Australia ($2.3m from 357), Mexico ($1.5m from674) and Brazil ($1m from 350).
As its contests with Batman Begins suggest, DreamWorks'Madagascar had an impressive weekend, grossing approximately $17m from2,042 cinemas in 19 territories and taking the top chart spot in four of itsseven new markets. Distributed outside the US by UIP, the animated offeringtook its running international total to $29.5m.
The film had its biggest number one opening inAustralia, taking about $5.7m (including previews) from 255 locations, wayahead of DreamWorks' earlier animated offerings Shark Tale and theoriginal Shrek.
In Mexico, the top spot was attained with a $5mgross from 381 cinemas, the territory's sixth biggest opening ever, accordingto DreamWorks. And in sweltering Spain, $3.3m from 556 cinemas was enough totake number one position.
Madagascarhas become DreamWorks's highest grossing release ever in Russia, with $6.8mafter only 18 days in the market.
Fox International's Star Wars: Episode III -Revenge of the Sith, another recent wide day-and-date opener, grossed anestimated $8.8m in its fifth weekend from around 7,200 screens in 64-plusterritories. Million-dollar-plus markets included France ($1.6m from 821sites), the UK ($1.3m from 432) and Germany ($1.2m from 1,029).
With Japan still to open, Episode III has sofar taken $357.9m outside the domestic market, putting it on course tosubstantially out-gross Episode II internationally and perhaps eclipseEpisode I.
Buena Vista International (BVI) extended thesurprisingly powerful international run of The Pacifier, helping thefilm gross an estimated $2m from 1,300 screens in 23 countries for a cumulativeinternational total of $76.5m.
Meanwhile BVI's The Hitchhiker's Guide To TheGalaxy took an estimated $1.7m from 1,800 screens in 12 territories, for a$36.6m cumulative total.
Universal's The Interpreter, distributed inmost of the international marketplace by UIP, grossed $1.3m from 1,000 dates in21 territories, bringing its running international total to $74.3m ($71.3m fromUIP territories). The film has still to open in four territories.
Weekend grosses were not available at press timefrom Sony Pictures Releasing International, which has The Longest Yardcontinuing its run in two markets and which opened Kung Fu Hustle overthe weekend in Finland and Norway.