Ned Kelly followed up its powerful opening day(Screendaily Mar 28) with a $1.5m opening weekend.

Buoyed by anintense publicity campaign featuring Heath Ledger and most of the cast, theUniversal Pictures/Endymion Films production opened in 252 theatres and went onto claim a 30% market share over the weekend.

It was the thirdhighest opening day for an Australian picture behind Moulin Rouge and Crocodile Dundee II.

The debut was33% bigger than Ledger pic A Knight's Tale and 13% ahead of The Patriot in which he starred with fellow AussieMel Gibson. Naomi Watts and Geoffrey Rush also star in Gregor Jordan'sbiopic, which charts the bushranger Kelly's life and times.

The picture isdue to open in Romania on Apr 4, Venezuela on May 14 and Japan on May 24. Mostremaining international markets will follow in the autumn.

RomanPolanski's The Pianist benefited from its triple Oscar haul in Australia and NewZealand. The wartime drama held on to seventh place in Australia, where itgrossed $221,000 in 53 theatres, rising 28% for a 25-day cumulative score of$1.2m.

In New Zealandit finished eighth, taking $47,000 in seven sites and rising 44% for a 25-daytotal of $192,000.

Meanwhile in other international news for the studio,Universal added $1.6m from 1,041 theatres in 13 markets over the weekend tobring its international total to $106.3m.
The Life Of David Gale opened numberfive in Hong Kong on $35,000 in 15 venues, a decent return considering thelocal outbreak of SARS, a respiratory virus that has resulted in the deaths of54 people worldwide.

In its third week in the UK the death row drama grossed$311,000 in 240 venues, dropping 56% for an 11th place finish. To date thepicture has taken $3.2m in the territory.

David Gale has grossed $7.6m internationally and isset to open in France and Belgium on Apr 23.