While The Dark Knight dominated the weekend box office here in the US -- with a little love spared for Mamma Mia! and Transsiberian -- in Asia things looked a little different. The Good, the Bad, the Weird , which was just picked up by IFC for the US, opened in its native South Korea to outstanding returns, according to Variety.

The film, a salute to Spaghetti Westerns with a modern twist, is expected to surpass 2.2 million admissions over the weekend, which would make it the fastest to hit that mark this year, beating out police comedy Public Enemy Returns. Its opening day returns put it in the company of previous monster smashes D-War and The Host. We should hear more about The Good, the Bad, the Weird when it plays at Toronto in September.

The news is not as good in Japan, where master filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki's latest animated achievement, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, was expected to dominate. Opening on a record number of screens for a local picture (481), Ponyo is said by its distributor to have earned 83% of the total made by Miyazaki's blockbuster Spirited Away, which sounds good. But as reported by Mark Schilling in Variety, those numbers may be misleading.

p>For one thing, Spirited Away opened on fewer screens and took nearly a year to make its record haul. For another, some blog posters have reported empty seats at screenings -- unheard of in the recent past for a Miyazaki picture. Ponyo is competing with Boys Over Flowers, which is drawing heavy teen crowds, as well as the latest installment of Pokemon. Time will tell, but this should not affect the eventual release of Ponyo in the US, though no release date has been announced.