France's Canal Plus is acquiring worldwide rights, excluding Japan, to six pictures from Suncent CinemaWorks, the film production arm of Japanese satellite broadcaster WOWOW.

The first film in the deal is Sogo Ishii's Gojo Reisenki, a lavishly produced period action film set for an autumn release in Japan. The film is the fifth in the J*Cine*X series of films by younger directors produced by Suncent president Takenori Sento for WOWOW. Also included in the deal is Naomi Sento's Hotaru and Yurika by hot young Japanese director Shinji Aoyama. The other three titles on the slate have not been announced.

Canal Plus sales arm Le Studio Canal Plus began marketing ancillary rights to Suncent films at the end of last year. The French major also agreed to underwrite P&A expenses for Suncent films in territories outside Japan.

A producer for WOWOW since 1992, Sento launched Suncent CinemaWorks in November 1998 after making a string of critical and popular favourites that included Naomi Sento's Suzaku, winner of the Camera d'Or prize at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival, and Ring and Rasen, a pair of linked horror films whose 1998 box office success launched the on-going Japanese horror boom.

Since his days at Wowow, Sento has aggressively promoted his films abroad, entering them in international film festivals and selling them to foreign distributors. The latest example is Akira Ogata's Boy's Choir (Dokuritsu Shonen Gasshudan), a Suncent film screening in competition at Berlin.