Superman Returns took approximately $21m from 3,915 North American locations onits opening day on Wednesday, according to Warner Bros.

The studio rolled Tuesday night previews into the result,which includes unspecified figures from 76 IMAX screens to produce a $5,373average overall.

This is the eighth biggest Wednesday launch in history with Spider-Man2 and The Lord Of TheRings: The Return Of The King remaining the top two performers on $40.4m in June 2004 and $34.5min December 2003 respectively.

On the international front Superman Returns grossed a superb $2.2m and more than 389,513admissions from more than 955 prints in the first four markets reporting. Itopened top in each of Australia, South Korea, the Philippines and Thailand.

Australia generated an outstanding $919,000 from 407 prints forthe eighth biggest opening day for a Warner Bros or Warner Bros/VillageRoadshow title behind the three Matrix pictures and the first four Harry Potter releases.

South Korea produced $654,000 and 103,405 admissions from263 prints, while the Philippines produced the second biggest opening day inindustry history and the biggest launch for a Warner Bros picture on $408,000and 195,421 admissions from 81. Thailand generated $265,000 and 90,687admissions from 204 prints.

Warner Bros Pictures International will issue updated results onSunday [July 2] for these and seven other markets.

On the domestic side it seems redundant to make comparisons to theearlier Superman pictures given the manner in which release platforms haveinflated over the years.

For the record, the North American result eclipses Superman IV's lifetime tally of $15.6m, let alone that picture's $5mopening day gross in July 1987. It also smashes the previous three-day openingweekend record for the franchise set by Superman II on $14.1m in June 1981.

When Superman Ð The Movie opened in December 1978 it generated what was at the timeWarner Bros' biggest three-day opening weekend of $7.4m on 508 screens, andwent on to amass what remains the biggest final gross in the franchise of$134.2m.

Superman Returns will most likely soar past that amount in amatter of days, given that the national July 4 Independence Day holiday fallson a Tuesday and many workers will take off the preceding Monday, which effectivelyhands the studio a seven-day weekend launch-pad.

"Our exitpolls are strong and we are well positioned going into this holiday,"Warner Bros' domestic distribution chief Dan Fellman, who praised directorBryan Singer, cast and crew, said. "Every day is going to be like aholiday with this movie right through to Jul 4." Warner Bros will issuefive-day grosses on Sunday and a seven-day tally on Tuesday July 4.