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 Japan, where itgrossed an estimated $15.5m from 765 locations over five days, making itParamount's and UIP's all-time top opener.

In the UK, where it opened on Friday, the film grossed anestimated $15m from 507 locations, the biggest debut tally ever for Cruise,Spielberg and Paramount.

Germany produced an estimated gross of $8m from 846locations and Spain $7.3m from 589, another record for Cruise, Spielberg andParamount.

Mexico delivered an estimated $6.8m from 480 locations, yetanother benchmark for star, director and studio.

In Italy, the estimate was $6.5m from 560 locations and inAustralia $6m from 268.

In Russia, the picture achieved the biggest opening ever fora foreign film: $5.5m from 283 locations.

Taiwan reported an estimate of $4.2m from 66 locations andBrazil came in with $2.9m from 305 sites.

Besides War of the Worlds, UIP also reported anothergood week for Madagascar. The animated DreamWorks movie grossed anestimated $15.6m over the weekend, bringing its running international total to$78.8m.

Madagascar dropped off only 12% in France, to take$3.3m (for a total in the territory of $9.3m); 28% in Australia, for $2.0m(total $13.7m); 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 $15.5m from 8,646 screens in 86 markets. The weekendtally took the film past the century mark to a cumulative international totalof $114m.

The superhero sequel opened in China and Warner reported anestimated take of RMB 3.0m from Wednesday and Thursday showings on 296 screens.Accurate numbers will not be available until Monday, but the studio said thetwo-day total was 40% better than that for The Matrix 2 and 70% betterthan that for Troy, currently Warner's highest grossing film in China.

Batman Begins held up well in many of its continuingterritories.

In France, it was off just 28% to an estimated weekend grossof $1.6m (for a cumulative gross of $9.0m). The decline was considerablysmaller than the third weekend drops for Van Helsing, The Matrix 3and Spider-Man 2, Warner reported.

In Germany, Batman Begins was down by only 34% to$765,400 (for a cumulative $4.8m), holding up better, Warner said, than both X-Menmovies, I, Robot, The Matrix 3 and Spider-Man 2.

For Brazil, Warner reported a 37% decline to $685,500(cumulative - $4.6m), slightly better than Star Wars: Episode III did inits third weekend in the territory, according to Warner.

Batman Begins fell off 42% in Japan to $935,300(cumulative - $8.9m); 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); 57% in the UK to $2.3m (cumulative - $21.8m); and 69% in Spain to$593,500 (cumulative - $6.4m).

The film's second weekend estimated gross in Korea was down45% 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.