Riding a global wave of publicity and controversy, The DaVinci Code this weekend became the biggest international day-and-dateopener ever, with an estimated gross of $147m from 12,213 screens in 90territories.

Added to the film's estimated North American gross of $77m,the international take gives Sony's Holy Grail-themed adventure a worldwidefirst-weekend total of $224m, the second biggest ever, behind only the $253.9achieved this time last year by Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of theSith.

In the international marketplace, Da Vinci'sultra-wide release and high profile Cannes Film Festival launch clearly helpedit to beat the $144.8m from 10,000 screens in 104 territories recorded by the StarWars finale. The Sony film, though, achieved its total without the help ofearly openings (most territories opened the film on their usual launch days) orpreviews.

Produced by Imagine Entertainment, directed by Ron Howardand based on Dan Brown's hugely popular novel, Da Vinci was boosted byits international cast, headed by Tom Hanks and Audrey Tatou. It may also havebenefited from the publicity surrounding recent attacks on both novel and filmby Christian groups.

Commenting on the massive opening, Sony Pictures ReleasingInternational (SPRI) president of distribution Mark Zucker said: "Ourworldwide day-and-date release strategy has paid off handsomely with thisamazing record. We give thanks to the extraordinary efforts of everyone at SPRIthat served to complement the great talents of Dan Brown, the filmmakers andour wonderful all-star international cast."

The Da Vinci Code opened at number one in all its territories.In the UK, it grossed an estimated $15.7m from 1,086 screens; in Germany itmade $12.3m from 1,154; and in France the take was $11.6m from 1,000 screens.

Opening-weekend records fell in Italy, where the film made$11.5m from 875 screens, and in Spain, where the gross was $11.1m from 755screens. SPRI said the gross of $9.3m from 381 screens in South Korea mightalso be a record for the territory.

Japan, where the film only opened on Saturday, reported atwo-day gross of $11.3m from 867 screens. Australia recorded $6.4m from 563screens; Mexico $6.2m from 700; Brazil $4.6m from 500; Russia $3.7m from 470;and Taiwan $4.1m.

The opening gross of $5m from China was the biggest ever fora non-Chinese film in that market, said SPRI.

Four other territories reported grosses of $2m or more andanother 11 came in at or above the $1m mark.

UIP's Over the Hedge was the only other filmbeginning its international rollout this weekend and it opened (day-and-datewith its US launch) in just three smaller Asian markets.

The computer animated family comedy, produced by DreamWorksAnimation, grossed $760,000 from 136 locations. In Singapore, the take was$410,000 from 26 locations; in Malaysia, the gross was $180,000 from 42locations; and in the Philippines, the result was $175,000 from 68 locations.

UIP noted that the openings in all three territories werewell ahead of those for Shark Tale and Shrek (though thedistributor added that because the film opened on a Friday and a week ahead ofschool holidays comparisons to normal weekends were not applicable).

Paramount's Mission: Impossible III, distributed byUIP, continued its strong international run, grossing an estimated $22.2m from7,092 dates over its third weekend, down a reasonable 46% from last weekend'stally. The international total for the Tom Cruise vehicle now stands at$163.2m, with openings in China, India and Japan still to come.

M:I:III's best holds and top markets included: Korea,where it dipped 41% to gross $4m (for a $27.5m running total); the UK, where itslid 34% to $3.4m (for a $23.3m total); France, where it declined 47% to $1.5m(for a $12.2m total); Germany, where it fell 41% to $1.3m (for a $7.7m total);and Brazil, where the drop was 36% to $950,000 (and a $6.3m total).

Fox International's Ice Age 2: The Meltdown notchedanother good total in its eighth week on international release: $4.9m fromaround 6,000 locations, bringing the film's international total to $428.5m.

The animated comedy was down only 9% in Germany, to$891,000, and 28% in the UK, to $583,000.

Buena Vista International's Scary Movie 4 grossed anestimated $1.6m, bringing its international total to $63.6m, with several majormarkets still to go. The company's Eight Below grossed $900,000, for atotal so far of $35.8m, while The Wild climbed to $32.3m with an$800,000 weekend gross. Buena Vista says the animated family film, which hasstill to launch in more than half of the international marketplace, is oncourse for an international take twice as big as its disappointing domesticgross.

Warner Bros International's Poseidon grossed anestimated $1.5m over its second weekend, from 670 screens in six Asian markets,bringing the film's international total to date to $7.2m.

The disaster movie made $402,600 from 175 screens in India(for a $1.6m total in the territory); $278,200 from 60 screens in Singapore(for a $1.3m total); $262,500 from 136 screens in the Philippines ($1m total);$254,900 from 180 screens in Thailand ($1.7m total); $222,800 from 62 screensin Malaysia ($900,000 total); and $112,200 from 57 screens in Indonesia($606,900 total).

Warner also reported a strong opening of $1.2m from 304prints in Spain for Pedro Almodovar's Volver (which the studio hasacquired for distribution in Spain and Italy).

Universal reported an estimated weekend gross of $1.1m from900 dates in 30 territories for Inside Man, bringing the film'sinternational total to $85.8m. Distributed by UIP, the film still has fiveterritories, including Japan, in which to open.

Universal's Nanny McPhee continues to play in 20territories, and its international total has reached $74m (including $67.4mfrom territories where the film is distributed by UIP).