Sweeping into 97 territories day-and-date with its North Americanlaunch, <I>Kingdom of Heaven</I> produced an impressive $56mestimated gross this weekend, putting it firmly at the top of the internationalchart and slightly exceeding the expectations that distributor FoxInternational had for the historical epic with obvious global potential.

The big budget Ridley Scott adventure, with Orlando Bloom starring as a12th century Crusader, knocked rivals - namely <I>XXX: TheNext Level</I> and <I>The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy</I>-- off the top chart spot in nearly every market. The only other internationalopener was Warner Bros Pictures International/Village Roadshow's <I>Houseof Wax</I>, which was launched in two Asian territories and grossed anestimated $1.1m.

Fox International reported the $56m <I>Kingdom</I> figurefor markets including France and Italy, where the US major is not distributing.For its own territories, Fox put the film's total at $47.5m from 6,562 screens.

<I>Kingdom's</I> biggest takes included an estimated $7.1m(including previews) from 842 screens in Germany, $5m from 435 screens inSpain, $4.8m from 443 screens in the UK and $4m (including previews) from 333screens in Korea. The film opens in Japan, its only remaining major territory,next week.

Other notable performances came in Mexico ($2.8m, including previews,from 540 screens); Russia ($2.2m, including previews, from 363 screens); Brazil($1.5m from 483 screens, the biggest opening of the year so far in theterritory); and Greece ($1.4m from 91 screens).

Comparing <I>Kingdom</I> with other historical spectacles,the UK opening, for example, was twice as big as that for <I>Alexander</I>though smaller than that for Scott's own <I>Gladiator</I>.

<I>Kingdom's</I> launch helped cause a 46% drop in theweekend gross of last week's (less wide) day-and-date global release, SonyPictures Releasing International's <I>XXX: The Next Level</I>. Theaction sequel grossed an estimated $8.1m from 4,615 screens in 64 territories,bringing its international cumulative total to $30.2m.

The film's drop-offs were fairly modest in Germany (down 13% to $1mfrom 595 for fourth place); the UK (down 28% to $1.25m from 482 screens forthird place); and France (down 33% to $900,000). But <I>XXX 2</I>was hit harder in Australia (down 51% to $455,000 from 240 screens); Spain (down56% to $475,000); and Korea (down 61% to $530,000).

Buena Vista International's (BVI) <I>The Hitchhiker's Guide tothe Galaxy</I> held on relatively well in the three territories where itopened last week, grossing an estimated total of $5m (for a cumulative total of$18.1m) and coming in second to <I>Kingdom</I> in each country. Inthe UK, <I>Hitchhiker's</I> fell 32% to gross an estimated $3.6m;in Australia it was down 42% to $1.2m; and in New Zealand it lost 45% for$200,000. BVI is hoping the film's rollout in other territories next month willbenefit from the attachment of trailers to another big sci-fi property, <I>StarWars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith</I>.

BVI's surprisingly strong international performer, <I>ThePacifier</I>, grossed an estimated $4m from 2,400 screens in 27territories (for a cumulative total of $48m). The family comedy was robust inMexico and Germany, where it increased its take by 32% to $951,000 from 525locations.

Universal's <I>The Interpreter</I> also maintained itsinternational legs, dropping off just 23% for a $5.4m estimated gross from2,177 dates in 31 countries. The cumulative international total now stands at$48.2m with 19 territories, including Japan, still to launch.

The film was another beneficiary of a national holiday and a break fromwarm weather in Germany: it was up 48% to an estimated $1.7m from 385 dates,good enough to claim second place behind <I>Kingdom</I> and bringits total for the territory to $6.1m after 18 days. The thriller also held onto second place in Spain (dropping 33% to $544,000, for a total of $5.8m after24 days) and only dropped by 27% in the UK (to $1m from 360 dates, for an$11.4m total after 24 days).

<I>The Interpreter</I> also held well in Mexico (off just29% with $340,000 at 187 dates) and Australia (off 33% in its fourth weekendwith $394,000 from 199 dates). It took its biggest hit in Brazil, where it wasoff 53% to an estimated $155,000 at 118 dates.

The initial international openings for <I>House of Wax</I>,Dark Castle's remake of the Vincent Price horror classic with Paris Hiltonstarring, were in Taiwan (an estimated $879,000 from 74 prints) and Singapore($244,000 from 28 prints). The Taiwan result is the best opening for a horrorfilm in the territory so far this year and <I>Wax</I> is expectedto take second place in both countries.

Well into its overseas run, Warner Bros' <I>Constantine</I>grossed an estimated $1.5m from 322 screens in 34 territories, bringing itsinternational total to an impressive $148.6m. And the studio's <I>MissCongeniality 2</I> grossed an estimated $967,700 from 540 screens in 52territories, pushing its international total to $48.9m

Beyond its <I>Kingdom of Heaven</I> results,meanwhile, Fox reported that animated family film <I>Robots</I> hadreached $105.9 internationally, with Japan still to open. The studio's <I>Hideand Seek</I> edged up to $67.5m internationally, <I>Be Cool</I>reached $36m, and <I>Guess Who</I> went to $10.5m.