Shrek2 gotoff to a storming start at the US box office on Wednesday (19), grossing anestimated $11.8m for the biggest ever mid-week opening of an animated picture.

"Thiswas a spectacular opening and one that exceeded all of our expectations,"DreamWorks head of distribution Jim Tharp said in a statement.

"Wehad hoped to come within range of the record, but to fly well past it wasthrilling, to say the least."

Tharpadded that based on positive exit polls he was confident the sequel wouldperform strongly this weekend and play "well into the summermonths".

Theprevious best mid-week animated opening was Pokemon: The First Movie, which grossed $10.1mon Nov 10, 1999.

Shrek2 isthe 14th biggest mid-week opener ever and all eyes will now be on whetherit can beat the original, which grossed $42.3m in its first three days in May2001 and finished on $267.7m. The picture took $214.9m internationally.

MikeMyers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz reprise their vocal duties as the actiontransfers to a visit to Princess Fiona's parents in the kingdom of Far,Far Away.

Newcharacters are voiced by John Cleese, Julie Andrews, acclaimed Britsh comicJennifer Saunders, Anthony Banderas and Rupert Everett.

AndrewAdamson, Kelly Asbury and Conrad Vernon directed and Aron Warner, David Lipmanand John H Williams produced with Dreamworks principal Jeffrey Katzenbergserving as executive producer.