DreamWorks Animation's Shark Tale got off to a strong start at the weekend as it divedinto the international marketplace with openings in Australia and New Zealandthrough UIP.

The first territories in the world to receive the film,which opens in North America on Friday at an estimated 3,500 sites, bothawarded the underwater underworld tale with number one openings.

In Australia the film netted $1.8m (A$2.5m) from 310 screensover the four-day opening weekend (Sep 23-26), for a solid $5,843 screen average.Including previews the film took $2.4m (A$3.3m).

New Zealand managed $388,995 (NZ$587,383) over the four-dayweekend at 52 screens, a stronger $7,480 screen average. With previews the NewZealand total stands at $602,242 (NZ$909,385).

The figures were no match, however, for eitherDreamWorks/UIP's earlier 2004 animated hit, Shrek 2, norBVI/Pixar's 2003 animated-fish film, Finding Nemo.

Shrek 2 opened to$9.4m (A$13.2m) from 437 screens in Australia and $1.46m (NZ$2.2m) from 85screens in New Zealand on June 17 this year. This gave the sequel, which benefitedfrom brand recognition which Shark Tale lacks, averages of $21,460 and $17,160 respectively.

Finding Nemo openedat the end of August 2003 to takings of $5.7m (A$8m) from 399 screens in Australiaand $672,620 (NZ$1m) from 72 screens in New Zealand. Averages stood at $14,361and $9,340.

Shark Tale featuresthe voice talents of Will Smith, Jack Black, Robert De Niro, Renee Zellweger,Angelina Jolie and Martin Scorsese. It rolls out across most internationalterritories through October and December holding just Italy back for a Februarylaunch next year.