THE spotlight was on Scotland last night as cartoon blockbuster Brave had its European premiere in Edinburgh.

Set in the mythical medieval Highlands, the film was shown at the closing night gala of the 66th Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF).

The Disney Pixar blockbuster features the voices of some of Scotland's biggest stars, including Billy Connolly and Robbie Coltrane – but film critics say Scotland itself is the real star of the show.

Brave topped the US box office last weekend, taking in an estimated $66.3 million (£42.27m), following the world premiere in LA last week.

Yesterday, an enthusiastic crowd of onlookers braved the rain in the capital, as they waited for the stars to arrive for the glitzy event.

A string of Scots stars, including Robbie Coltrane and his co-stars, Kevin McKidd, Glaswegian Kelly Macdonald and Craig Ferguson, took to the red carpet last night for the European premiere of the new film. Billy Connolly failed to show up.

McKidd, from Elgin, said it was a fantastic experience to be involved in the film. "I feel very blessed and honoured to be part of this," he said.

"I think it's definitely going to have a big effect. I'm very proud to be Scottish and I'm always telling people to come and visit."

Kelly Macdonald, who wore a blue and white, silk Diane Von Furstenburg dress, said she was "incredibly proud" to be involved in the film.

Directed by Mark Andrews, who worked on films like Cars and The Incredibles, Brave tells the story of a Scottish princess called Merida –voiced by Macdonald – and her fight to save herself from a Celtic curse.

Production company Pixar, which also made Toy Story and Finding Nemo, has 26 Oscars to its name.

Andrews, who was among a raft of the American guests who donned kilts at last night's event, said: "This all started six years ago, with our research trip to Scotland. Now we've come full circle and it is an honour to be back here, presenting the movie to a Scottish audience."

Arriving at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh, the First Minister revealed that he has officially listed the tartan featured in the movie – DunBroch – on The Scottish Register of Tartans.

Designed especially for the film, with "subdued, rich colours to reflect the rugged, natural setting of Scotland", the tartan is now available to buy, after Salmond registered it on June 22.

The First Minister said: "This is a magnificant film – not only is it great fun, but it's a terrific showcase for Scotland across the world.

"The scenery, accent, and story are all so real. It features an incredibly talented cast – many of them Scots themselves.

"But what we have to remember is, the producers couldn't have done this without Scotland. Technically, Brave is one the greatest films ever made and millions of people are going to see it.

"They're going to see for themselves an animated vision of our beautiful country and we hope it will turn a lot of people towards Scotland."

Scottish tourism chiefs are now trying to capitalise on the magic of Disney.

The national tourism body, VisitScotland, has launched its biggest-ever global advertising campaign to coincide with the release of the new animation blockbuster.

The agency is spending £7m on the project, which is expected to reach about 80 million people worldwide. The Scottish Government believes the economy will get a boost of around £140m on the back of the film.

The campaign will showcase Scotland through television and cinema adverts, a new website and marketing in countries, such as France and Germany, as well as in the rest of the UK.

VisitScotland hairman Mike Cantlay said the film, which will be shown in more than 70 countries around the world, could do even more for Scotland's international image than Braveheart did in 1995.

He said: "The pictures are stunning and America's going daft for this movie.

"I think the really special thing is how the Scottish character is depicted and the acting talent have done such a wonderful job to explore that.

"The first thing I saw when I flew into Los Angeles for the premiere was a great big billboard for Brave and we hadn't even landed yet.

"Posters for the film are on billboards and buildings across the country – you can't not know that Brave is coming.

"I've always said that selling Scotland is the easiest job in the world and to have a movie like Brave is a wonderful tool for us to use."

He added: "If you think back to other Disney Pixar movies, no matter how old they are, they are all still relevant today.

"We hope the same for Brave and that it will be relevant, across the world, for years to come.

"VisitScotland will now launch a new television advertising campaign – our first in many years – which will reach around 80 million people.

"And that's just the beginning."

Brave will be released in cinemas across the UK in August.