The highly anticipated Warof the Worlds has opened with anestimated first-day worldwide gross $34.606m, comprising $21.256m from 3,908theatres in North America and $13.35m from 46 international territories.

Rob Friedman, vice chairmanof domestic distributor Paramount Pictures Motion Pictures Group, said thestudio was 'ecstatic' about the figures for Wednesday screenings ofthe Tom Cruise-Spielberg sci-fi adventure, co-produced by Paramount andDreamWorks on a reported budget of around $130m.

'This is just thebeginning of a long and successful run at box offices around the globe,'he added.

The domestic opening daygross was the biggest ever for Paramount and for a Tom Cruise movie, the studiosaid in a statement. But the total was still only in the middle of the rangebeing discussed in the industry. It handily beat the $15m opening day grossachieved by Batman Begins twoweeks ago; but it was considerably short of the $33.5m (excluding previews)achieved by Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith on its opening day (a Thursday) in May.

Batman Begins went on to gross $71.1m over its five-day openingweekend and Star Wars: Episode IIIclocked up $158.5m over its four-day opening run. With Monday being the July 4Independence Day holiday in the US, War of the Worlds will have a six-day opening weekend in which to showits full domestic potential.

The international openingday gross came from just half of the territories in which the film is set toopen this weekend, though it was the half that included most major markets.

Distributed internationallyby UIP, the film opens in Russia on Thursday (June 30) and in the UKon Friday (July 1). It opens in France and Korea, its last remaining majorterritories, next weekend.