The summer has begun. Universal's Van Helsingscored a record-breaking $53m on 5,000 screens in 41 countries at the weekend,dominating the market and ushering in what is shaping up to be a monsterinternational season for the studios.
It was Universal and UIP's biggest opening weekend ofall time, beating director Stephen Sommers' The Mummy and The MummyReturns, which did not open day-and-date but based on like-for-liketerritories grossed $46.4m and $47.2m respectively in their opening weekends.
Driven by number one bows in the UK, Germany, France,Spain, Italy, Australia and Mexico, among others, Van Helsing grossed$50.6m through UIP and a further $2.4m from Russia, the Philippines andIceland, where it is distributed through third parties.
Added to the number one$54.2m US bow, executives have declared a $107.2m worldwide weekend
The picture grossed an outstanding $9.7m (£5.4m) on460 screens in the UK as well as 52% market share, snapping up Universal'ssecond biggest opening behind last year's Love Actually.
It grossed 61% more than The Mummy's $6m in1999 and 14% more than The Mummy Returns' $8.5m in 2001.
Germany produced a mighty $7.6m on 735 dates and 51%market share for the studio's fourth biggest ever bow, outgrossing The MummyReturns by 23% but trailing The Mummy by 3%.
A sterling Spanish bow generated Universal's biggestopening of all time as Van Helsing took $5.1m on 460, passing theprevious $3m mark set by Hannibal in 2001 and eclipsing The Mummyby 115% and The Mummy Returns by 69%.
France produced $4.1m on 632 and performed roughly thesame as The Mummy while outgrossing The Mummy Returns by 24%, andItaly yielded $3.5m on 403for Universal's third biggest opening ever, beating The Mummy by 17% andthe sequel by 78%.
Australia scored an excellent $3.6m on226 and 51% market share, outgrossing The Mummy by 7% and The MummyReturns by 23%.
The picture grossed a superb $2.9m on 344and 48% market share in Mexico for Universal's fifth biggest bow there, beatingThe Mummy by 21% and The Mummy Returns by 1%.
Brazil scored a relatively subdued$850,000 on 200 for 38% market share. Studio executives reported number oneopenings "everywhere" in Latin America and fuller figures are expected laterthis week.
Results were also impressive in South-East Asia, wherethe picture grossed $1.5m in Taiwan for the studio's fifth biggest opening everand performed 17% bigger than The Mummy but 37% below The MummyReturns.
Malaysia had its biggest opening day of the year on anoutstanding $82,000 on 38 and grossed $445,000 over the weekend for Universal'seighth best opening, performing 6% above The Mummy and grossing roughlythe same amount as the sequel.
Singapore opened top on $171,000 on 26 (includingpreviews), which was the biggest opening of the year during a non-holidayperiod.
The weekend gross is $740,000, which is at the samelevel as The Mummy but 30% behind The Mummy Returns, both ofwhich opened during June holidays.
$820,000 on 94 in The Netherlands was enough for thestudio's sixth biggest bow ever there, where results were 26% more than TheMummy and 41% more than The Mummy Returns.