King Kong fell short of delivering the gargantuandomestic opening day results Universal executives had been hoping for onWednesday as the picture generated approximately $9.8m from 3,568 theatres.
Studiospokespeople quickly shifted their focus to the weekend, predicting mightygrosses on the back of strong word-of-mouth.
"We knew weweren't launching a sequel and it's at a busy time during the holiday season,so I was thrilled to see the numbers were close to $10m," Universal's presidentof domestic distribution Nikki Rocco said.
"It's a greatstart. We're very pleased with the word-of-mouth that's feeding back to us andthe film's playability and reviews are great, so we're looking forward to theweekend."
Peter Jackson'sthree-hour epic fared well internationally as Kong produced $8m from 4,695theatres in 36 territories and drummed up a number of opening-day records.
Malaysia and theUnited Arab Emirates generated new all-time opening day grosses on $254,000from 49 sites and $149,000 from 22 respectively.
There were newall-day Wednesday opening records in New Zealand on $297,000 from 73 sites, andSingapore on $251,000 from 27.
UIP openingrecords fell in Russia on $533,000 from 308, Thailand on $287,000 from 77,Denmark $252,000 from 73, and the Philippines on $250,000 from 104.
France producedUIP's fifth biggest ever opening day on $1.2m from 780, Germany generated$664,000 from 739, Australia produced the second biggest ever UIP Wednesdaylaunch on $860,000 from 232, and Hong Kong generated $244,000 from 57.
Kong opens in 19 more territories thisweekend including the UK, South Korea, Brazil, Mexico and Japan.
"We're veryhappy," David Kosse, Universal's president of international marketing anddistribution, said. "We dominated the frame and the exhibitors are telling usthat the audience reactions are some of the best we've seen in ages.
"We're hopingfor and expecting big numbers to build over the weekend. We've got a word ofmouth picture."