This weekend, Universal's monsterfest Van Helsing will open day-and-date with the US in 40territories around the world, raising the curtain on what could become the mostlucrative summer season ever for the studios' international divisions.

The sheer volume of heavy hitters lining up on the runways ismind-boggling with Van Helsing just one of five major Hollywood titles set for simultaneousglobal release in the next couple of months.

Following hot on its heels in a fiercely competitive May will comeWarner Bros' Troy and20th Century Fox's The Day After Tomorrow. Warner Bros' Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban and Sony's Spider-Man 2 complete the line-up in June.

But first up is Stephen Sommers' $175m-plus Van Helsing, starring Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsaleand Richard Roxburgh, which unspools across the world in the same weekend asits much anticipated US debut on May 7.

The picture opened in France through UIP on 750 printsyesterday (5) and goes out in Germany and Australia today on 900 and 350 respectively.

UIP opens a slew of territories on May 7 including major bows inthe UK on 775, Mexico on 500, Italy on 455, Spain on 403 and Brazil on 300.

The next wave of releases will be on May 20 and the final twomajor markets follow later in the summer with Korea opening on Jul 23 and Japangoing out on Sept 4.

Jackman is no stranger to global releasing thanks to a starringrole as Wolverine in X2,which scored a $155.2m worldwide opening almost a year ago to the day.

That picture opened on $69.3m in 93 territories and wentstraight to the top in the US on $85.9m.

Whether such a gargantuan figure can be repeated on this weekend'ssmaller international platform remains to be seen, but there are plenty ofhorror fans out there who will be keen to see the highly charismatic leadsJackman and Beckinsale tackle classic Universal monsters. Unsurprisingly, allother distributors are lying low for now.

But next weekend comes the turn of Troy, its mega-budget adaptation of Homer'sIliad that stars heartthrobs Brad Pitt, Eric Bana and Orlando Bloom oppositeGerman-born beauty Diane Kruger as Helen, in 49 countries.