Universal's much-anticipated King Kong opens in North America today [Wednesday]on more than 7,500 screens in 3,568 theatres.

The scope of the holiday tentpole opening matches the scale ofPeter Jackson's picture, which clocks in at just over three hours.

This is Universal's second biggest domestic release of all timebehind Hulk, whichlaunched in more than 3,648 theatres in June 2003.

"We've been planning this for one-and-a-half years," Universal'spresident of domestic distribution Nikki Rocco said. "And we're looking forwardto a good weekend."

However the North American launch of King Kong, which stars Naomi Watts, Adrien Brody,Jack Black, Jamie Bell and Andy Serkis, is only part of the story.

The picture is launching day-and-date on more than 6,000 theatresthrough UIP in 55 territories.

Early box officereports will appear here later this week.