Alliance Atlantis and Canal Plus are close to finalising a deal for Alliance to handle UK distribution on a slate of high-profile English-language titles from Canal Plus's production operation, Le Studio Canal Plus.

The anticipated deal is understood to cover six pictures, and is likely to include Kathryn Bigelow's The Weight Of Water, John Waters' Cecil B Demented and George A Romero's Bruiser. The move would create Alliance's second major product line since partnering with Germany's Kinowelt in August - a pact which yielded the UK venture backing of $75m over three years and was followed by a three-year output deal with the US' Artisan Entertainment.

The deal would also mark another step forward in Canal Plus' strategy of building a pan-European distribution system.

Weight Of Water is a thriller starring Sean Penn and Catherine McCormack, while Bruiser is about a man who wakes to find that his face is a featureless mask and who seeks revenge on those who have wronged him. Demented, which has a cast including Stephen Dorff and Melanie Griffith, follows an indie film director who kidnaps a Hollywood star and forces her to be in his movie.

Canal Plus is also considering longer-term options in the UK. The French major has recently bolstered its European distribution with moves such as a joint venture between Le Studio and French independent distributor Bac.

While the anticipated deal with Alliance is thought to cover just an initial slate, it appears to position Alliance as a potential UK partner should Canal Plus press ahead with a similar venture in the UK to its BAC arrangement. But the French major, whose Le Studio is on an aggressive production foray in the US and Europe, also has links with UK distributors such as Pathe Distribution and FilmFour.