In its first US acquisition since forming last month, Focus has boarded BBC Films' Sylvia Plath story starring Gwyneth Paltrow.

UK-based international sales outfit Capitol Films has also partnered on the project, which focuses on the story of the relationship between the tragic poet who committed suicide aged 31 and British poet Ted Hughes.

Paul Paulikowski, who made his mark with the BBC's acclaimed $500,000 feature Last Resort, is to direct from a script by John Brownlow. Alison Owen of the UK's Ruby Films is producing.

BBC Films found critical and commercial success last year with Iris, the story of British writer Iris Murdoch's relationship with her husband John Bayley and her mental decay from Alzheimer's disease.

Plath became the most celebrated female poet of the 20th century, best known for her semi-autobiographical novel The Bell Jar about a young woman's mental breakdown during an internship at a New York magazine.