War of the Worlds takes its turn invading the globalmarketplace this weekend, with UIP giving the Steven Spielberg-Tom Cruisesci-fi adventure a 78-territory, 8,200-print international launch.

Expectations are high that the Paramount/DreamWorksco-production, which opened in North America on Wednesday (June 29) to get ajump on the July 4 holiday weekend, will give business in markets around theworld a welcome boost.

Cruise and Spielberg both have strong international trackrecords - their 2002 sci-fi collaboration, Minority Report, grossed$226m internationally versus $132m domestically - and the film's gritty tonemay have particular appeal for audiences outside the US.

In addition, the star and director have been working hard onthe international publicity circuit, attending premieres in Tokyo, Berlin,Marseilles, London and Madrid.

The film, based on H G Wells' classic story about an alieninvasion of Earth, also got an early international start, opening on Wednesday inseven major territories and dozens of smaller countries: Germany began with1,000 prints, Japan got 820, Mexico 650, Italy 600, Spain 500, Brazil 450 andAustralia 400.

Russia and some Eastern European territories get the film onThursday (June 30) and the UK - with 850 prints - and five other markets followon Friday (July 1).

Openings next weekend in France, Korea and other territorieswill expand the distribution to around 10,000 prints in 103 countries, saidUIP.

Besides its big day-and-date release, UIP is also launchingDreamWorks' animated Madagascar in a few smaller territories thisweekend: Israel and Portugal open on June 30 and South Africa and Poland onJuly 1. As of June 26 the film had grossed a total of $54.7m from internationalmarkets.

With UIP taking War of the Worlds so wide, othermajor US distributors are understandably making only isolated moves in theinternational marketplace.

Two studio pictures make their debuts in China, where Warof the Worlds will not launch until August 11.

Warner Bros International launched Batman Begins inthe territory - one of the few not included in the film's day-and-date launchtwo weeks ago - on June 29. As of June 22, the superhero franchise entry hadgrossed $49m in international markets.

And Fox International launches Robots on 210 Chinese screenson July 1. The computer-animated film has grossed $113.8m from international todate.

Fox International also opens Because of Winn-Dixie inSpain on July 1 with 10 prints. International total to date for the film is$153,000.

Fox reported updated international totals for its first twoday-and-date releases of the summer: $374.3m for Star Wars: Episode III -Revenge of the Sith and $96.7m for Mr & Mrs Smith.