The long-awaited Wallace & Gromit - The Curse Of TheWere-Rabbit will bow in Australia on September 15, as internationaldistributor UIP mirrors the pattern successfully swum byShark Talelast year.

With a North American premiere at the Toronto InternationalFilm Festival following within days, Wallace will open in the US throughDreamWorks on October 7 on a similar amount of screens as A Shark Talewith final numbers yet to be determined.

Were-Rabbit's Australian debut is timed to takeadvantage of the earlier school mid-term break down under: "We don't want tomiss that," said UIP president and COO Andrew Cripps.

Wallace& Gromit will then motor acrossEurope as children break out of schools, with a mid-term bow in the UK onOctober 14 following on from Spain's October 7 debut and an opening on the 12thin France. "There's no other big animated family film in this slot this year,"said Cripps.

Directed by Aardman Animation's Nick Park (in his debutfeature outing) and Steve Box, the all-claymation Wallace & Gromitis part of the Bristol animation studio's five picture deal with DreamWorks SKGand is believed to have been budgeted in the $50 million region. It will befollowed by Flushed Away, Aardman's first CGI feature.

Cripps acknowledged, "Wallace & Gromit is knowneverywhere, but some markets more than others."However, headded:"It's big, broad family entertainment and we're looking forward to working onit."

As he pointed out, without thebenefit of Gromit'smassive TV and ancillary exposure, Aardman's Chicken Runstill took$214m worldwide. A Shark Talenetted $364 million worldwide througha similar combination of DreamWorks and UIP last year.