This upcoming weekend offers the mouth-watering prospect of two possible $500m international results as Finding Nemo and The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King each close in on the half-billion mark.

While there is no doubt both titles will do it, Buena Vista International's (BVI) animated hit seems more likely to cross the finishing line first as it has grossed $483m in all its markets to date.

It began its international run in June, however, more than six months before New Line International's Return Of The King. The Tolkien adaptation launched in mid-December and has amassed a staggering $463m in less than five weeks. It continues to play in more than 50 markets and opens next week in Italy and Russia on Jan 22.

After passing $100m earlier this week on the back of an excellent ongoing run in Japan and a strong European launch, Warner Bros Pictures International's The Last Samurai will be looking to boost its international running total with a raft of releases in nearly 20 territories.

The Japan-set drama opens in France on Jan 14, Australia on Jan 15, Brazil and Mexico on Jan 16 and Taiwan on Jan 17.

Strong results are expected everywhere bearing in mind the film stars Tom Cruise. By way of comparison, Cruise's last action foray Minority Report opened top in France in October 2002, grossing $5.7m from 705 theatres.

It also did well in Australia, opening second on $2.1m from 329 theatres behind the immensely popular Scooby-Doo in June 2002.

The Eddie Murphy comedy The Haunted Mansion gets a big release in Brazil through BVI on Jan 16, when executives will be looking to build on its $3.2m international running total.

BVI has a scattered pattern of releases this weekend, rolling out the Western Open Range in Mexico on Jan 16, followed by drama Veronica Guerin in Australia on Jan 15 and thrillers Cold Creek Manor in Spain on Jan 16 and The Recruit in Japan on Jan 17.

Latest cumulative scores released by the distributor put the animated title Brother Bear on $31.6m and the comedy Calendar Girls on $51m.

Fox International opens the thriller Runaway Jury in the UK on Jan 16 on 300 prints. The film has grossed $7m in international markets to date and should do well considering the local popularity of stars John Cusack, Dustin Hoffman, Gene Hackman and Rachel Weisz.

The distributor also opens the acclaimed relationship drama Thirteen in Spain on the same day on 25 prints. Thirteen has grossed $2.9m to date including the UK, where it is distributed by UIP.

The comedy Uptown Girls goes out in Mexico and Brazil on Jan 16 on 120 and 52 prints respectively and has grossed $2.8m to date.

Le Divorce opens in Germany on Jan 15 on 50 prints and the romantic comedy has taken $3.5m in Fox territories so far.

Columbia TriStar Film Distributors International (CTFDI) opens Mona Lisa Smile in Spain, its first major European territory, on Jan 16 on 302 prints. The drama has taken $2.5m from CTFDI territories and $9.9m industry-wide.

Peter Pan opens in Korea on Jan 16 on 130 prints and Taiwan on Jan 17 on 70 and has grossed $18.5m to date industry-wide.

Errol Morris' acclaimed documentary The Fog Of War gets its first international release when it goes on limited release in France on Jan 14.

Finally, CTFDI will open action title The Rundown in China on Jan 16 on 190 prints. The film has taken $6.7m from CTFDI territories so far and is in the early stages of release.