The Da Vinci Code floodsthe international marketplace this weekend, opening day-and-date (orthereabouts) with its US launch on nearly 12,000 screens spread across almostevery territory.

The international opening is thewidest ever for distributor Sony Pictures Releasing International (SPRI) and itgives the film an even broader global launch than the summer's first Hollywoodblockbuster, Paramount/UIP's Mission: Impossible III, which opened at7,390 international sites two weeks ago.

After its elaborately stagedpremiere as the out-of-competition opening night offering at the Cannes FilmFestival, The Da Vinci Code opened on May 17 at 1,000 screens in France,125 screens in Belgium and 25 screens in French-speaking Switzerland.

On Thursday, May 18 the film hitsGermany (on 1,154 screens), Australia (563 screens), Russia (470 screens) andKorea (381 screens).

Most other territories --including major markets the UK (1,086 screens), Italy (875 screens), Spain (755screens), Mexico (700 screens) and Brazil (500 screens) - get the film onFriday, May 19, the same day as the 3,735-screen US launch. The 867-screenopening in Japan follows on Saturday, May 20.

Given that the Ron Howard-directedthriller is based on a novel that has sold 40m copies, is set in Paris andstars Hollywood's Tom Hanks next to France's Audrey Tatou, expectations arethat The Da Vinci Code could produce some spectacular internationalnumbers over its first weekend, particularly in Europe.

But questions still remain about the viability of asummer movie that is light on effects and action and the effect of thecontroversy that has surrounded the film over the past few weeks. Attacks onthe story's take on Christian history could either hurt or help the film,especially in strongly Catholic or orthodox Christian countries.

Only a small handful of otherfilms are daring to open in major markets opposite SPRI's big release.

DreamWorks' Over The Hedge(which goes head-to-head with Da Vinci in the US this weekend) opens,through UIP, in only three smaller Asian territories: Malaysia, the Philippinesand Singapore all get the animated family comedy on May 19.

Mission: Impossible III,whose international gross reached $129.8m last weekend, adds only one smallerterritory, Egypt, to its international reach.

UIP also gives NapoleonDynamite a belated launch in Germany (on May 18) and opens Slitherin Australia (also on May 18).

Fox International opens Aquamarinewith 21 prints in Italy on May 19.