Kevin Costner, with help from Whitney Houston, has toppled Paul Hogan from the Aussie B.O. pedestal of highest opening week: “The Bodyguard,” playing 127 screens, amassed a mammoth $ A4.36 million ($ 2.9 million) for the week ending Wednesday, surpassing the record set by “Crocodile Dundee 2″ in 1988 by almost a half million (Aussie) dollars.

Graham Burke, managing director of Village Roadshow, which reps WB theatrically Down Under, predicts “The Bodyguard” will likely gross more than $ 16.7 million.

That would make it WB’s highest-grossing pic here to date (“Batman” has that honor at the moment with a gross just over $ 8.7 million), and VR’s most successful film.

Based on comparative populations, the opening would equate to between $ 40 million and $ 50 million in the U.S., he adds.

He credits some of the success to one of the “most energetic” campaigns Village has undertaken, aimed at a broad demographic, plus a strong tie-in with the soundtrack. He says the campaign has cost $ 370,000, on par for an A pic.

He also points to the film’s release date, which effectively positions it as the last major title out of the gate during the Australian summer holidays.

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