Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides scored the biggest international opening of all time this weekend, grossing an estimated $256.3m.

Worldwide, the fourth installment of Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer’s Pirates franchise opened with an estimated $346.4m, making it the fourth biggest global opener ever behind Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Spider-Man 3 and the franchise’s third outing, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.

Opening in some territories on Wednesday (May 25), On Stranger Tides ended up playing on almost 20,000 screens in more than 100 territories. The $256.3m international tally was for the entire Wednesday-Sunday span and beat the previous record of $236m set by Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince in summer 2009.

The international opening was almost 20% bigger than the first weekend international tally of $216m (also for a Wednesday-Sunday span) achieved by At World’s End in summer 2007.

Distributor Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International (WDSMPI) reported that On Stranger Tides, the first franchise entry in 3D, set new opening weekend records in Russia, Latin America, the Middle East, Norway, Turkey and Ukraine. The fourth film opened bigger than all previous Pirates films in markets including China, German-speaking Europe, India and Scandinavia.

In Russia, Pirates 4 took an estimated $28.6m, more than the entire take in the territory of At World’s End. China produced a gross of $20m, also more than the At World’s End final total.

The UK produced $19.5m, WDSMPI reported, Germany $19.4m, Japan $18.2m, France $14.8m, Scandinavia $13.9m, Korea $12m, Italy $11.5m, Australia $10.3m, Spain $10m and Mexico $9.8m.

The film’s grosses were boosted by higher ticket prices charged for 3D and IMAX screenings. IMAX screenings on 138 screens yielded $8.4m of the film’s international total, almost doubling the previous IMAX international debut record. The IMAX Kinosfera in Moscow alone produced a take of $240,000.

Other international releases struggled to make a mark in Pirates’ wake.

Fast & Furious Five took an estimated $25m from 8,800 dates in 61 territories, pushing the Universal/UPI release’s international total past $300m and worldwide total past $500m.

Universal/UPI said the film’s fall-offs were smaller than expected given Pirates’ arrival in the marketplace.

In China the action sequel grossed an estimated $3.9m from 1,500 dates, off 57% for an 11-day total of $18.2m, making the film Universal’s second best performer ever in the territory.

Five placed second in Brazil with an estimated $2.3m from 269 dates, off 46% for a 17-day total of $15.9m, and second in Mexico with $2.2m from 494 dates, off 55% for a 17-day total of $21.6m.

Germany produced an estimated $1.8m from 544 dates, off 48% in for a 28-day total of $24m. The film held second place in the UK, taking $1.1m from 375 dates, off 44% for a 31-day total of $28.9m.

Paramount/PPI’s Thor grossed an estimated $9m from 10,064 locations in 60 international markets, taking the film’s international total to $247m, with an opening in Japan still to come.

The comic book hero saga did best in China, where over its second weekend it dropped 70% and took an estimated $1.2m from 4,900 locations, for a territory total to date of $14.8m.

Thor dropped 62% in the UK and Ireland to take $834,000 from 433 locations, for a local total of $21.2m. The film was down 68% in Mexico to $751,000 from 456 locations, for a total of $18.7m.

Water for Elephants, from Fox International, took an estimated $5.3m from 3,191 screens in 50 markets, bringing its international total to $45.6m. The romance dropped on 33% in Australia, taking $1.9m from 390 screens and coming second in the local top ten to Pirates 4.

Fox International’s Rio took another $5.3m from 5,668 screens in 64 markets this weekend, pushing its international take to $316.5m. The film became the biggest animated release ever in Brazil, surpassing Fox International’s Ice Age 3.

Black Swan, another Fox International release, earned $2.2m from 328 screens in Japan, dropping only 34% from its opening weekend and placing second in the territory. The film’s international total has now reached $203.9m.

Summit International’s Source Code grossed an estimated $2.2m from 1,350 screens in 32 territories, for an international total to date of $57.8m.

Summit also reported an estimated take of $1.8m from 405 locations in five markets for The Tree of Live, moving the international total for this weekend’s Cannes Palme D’Or winner to $2.4m. In France, the Terrence Malick drama grossed an estimated $1m from 251 locations and in Italy it took roughly $551,000 from 106 locations.

Universal/UIP’s Hop grossed an estimated $525,000 from 2,000 dates in 40 territories, raising its international total to $64.5m. The same studio’s Hanna took $500,000 from 300 dates in the UK, for a 17-day total of $5.2m, while Paul grossed $300,000 from 600 dates in 29 territories for a total of $52.2m.

Sony Pictures Releasing International and Warner Bros did not provide weekend box office estimates on Sunday.