War of the Worlds blasted into the internationalmarketplace this weekend with an estimated five-day gross of $102.5m from 8,000prints running in 78 countries.

It was by far the biggest international opening weekend everfor international rights owner Paramount Pictures and international distributorUIP. And in several major markets the film became the biggest internationalopener ever for both star Tom Cruise and director Steven Spielberg.

Compared to the wide international openers of the currentsummer season, the sci-fi adventure, co-produced by Paramount and DreamWorks ona reported budget of $135m, fell short of Star Wars: Episode III - Revengeof the Sith but easily out-performed Batman Begins and Kingdom ofHeaven. The gross is thought to place War of the Worlds around themiddle of the top ten of all-time biggest international openers.

UIP president Andrew Cripps described the results as"astounding" and said the total was "at the upper end of our expectations."

Released in a number of markets on Wednesday, the same dayas its domestic launch, War of the Worlds was biggest in the UK, where it opened on Friday, the film grossed an estimated $15.7m (including previews) from 507 locations over five days, the biggest tally ever for Cruise, Spielberg and Paramount.

In Japan, where it opened on Wednesday, the film grossed anestimated $15m from 829 locations.

Spain produced an estimated gross of $7.5m from 650locations and Germany $7.4m from 837.

Mexico delivered an estimated $6.6m from 364 locations, yetanother benchmark for star, director and studio.

In Italy, the estimate was $6m from 560 locations and inAustralia $6m from 399.

In Russia, the picture achieved the biggest opening ever fora foreign film: $5.2m from 282 locations.

Taiwan reported an estimate of $4.2m from 66 locations andBrazil came in with $2.7m from 305 sites.

Besides War of the Worlds, UIP also reported anothergood week for Madagascar. The animated DreamWorks movie grossed anestimated $13.2m over the weekend, bringing its running international total to$76.7m.

Madagascar dropped off only 12% in France, to take$3.3m (for a total in the territory of $9.3m); 25% in Australia, for $2.0m(total $13.8m); and 42% in Mexico, for $1.85m (total $14m).

The film opened at number one in Poland, Portugal, SouthAfrica and Israel.

While War of the Worlds dominated in most markets, WarnerBros Pictures International's Batman Begins managed to continue itsstrong run, dropping just 43% in its third weekend for an estimated overallinternational gross of $15.7m from 8,000 prints in 86 markets. The weekendtally took the film past the century mark to a cumulative international totalof $114.2m.

The superhero sequel opened in China and Warner reported anestimated take of $1m from 296 screens. The studio said theopening take was 77% better than that for I, Robot11% better than that for Pirates of the Caribbean and 92% betterthan that for The Bourne Supremacy.

Batman Begins held up well in many of its continuingterritories.

In France, it was off just 29% to an estimated weekend grossof $1.5m (for a cumulative gross of $9.0m).

In Germany, Batman Begins was down by only 27% to$851,800 (for a cumulative $4.8m).

For Brazil, Warner reported a 35% decline to $715,750(cumulative - $4.7m).

Batman Begins fell off 39% in Japan to $991,400(cumulative - $9.0m); 43% in Australia to $1.3m (cumulative - $8.6m); 47% inMexico to $1.1m (cumulative - $10.1m); 49% in Italy to $605,600 (cumulative -$5.7m); 53% in the UK to $2.5m (cumulative - $22m); and 63% in Spain to$705,500 (cumulative - $6.5m).

The film's second weekend estimated gross in Korea was down35% to $1.2m (cumulative - $4.2m).

In its fourth weekend in the international marketplace, FoxInternational's Mr & Mrs Smith almost halved its screen count andsaw its overall gross drop 56% to an estimated $5.6m from 1,725 screens. Withonly a couple of major territories still reporting, the film's internationaltotal stands at $105.6m.

In South Korea, the romantic comedy adventure dropped off amodest 21% to take an estimated $2m from 274 screens, for a running total inthe territory of $16.2m.

And in the UK it dropped off 48%, to $1.3m from 409 screensfor a territory total of $20.9m.

Fox International's Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge ofthe Sith grossed about $1m from 1,148 screens in its seventh weekend,edging its international total up to $371.9m.

And in its ninth weekend, the same studio's Kingdom ofHeaven brought its international total up to $143.2m.

(North American weekend box office figures for War of the Worlds and other films have been delayed because of the July 4 Independence Day holiday.)