Canada's CanWest Entertainment has confirmed a joint venture with Samuel Goldwyn Jr. and Carl Icahn, the billionaire backer of Stratosphere Entertainment, to launch an independent distribution outfit, IDP Distribution, to be based in New York.

IDP will acquire North American rights to smaller-budget films in a model similar to Lions Gate Releasing, distributor of controversial titles Dogma and American Psycho. The company already has two pictures on its slate, Spanish director Benito Zambrano's Solas and Liv Ullman's Ingmar Bergman-scripted Faithless, via earlier pickups by Goldwyn's Samuel Goldwyn Films.

In an interview with Toronto daily The Globe and Mail, CanWest Entertainment chief Jay Firestone said the company expects to name a president later this month.

CanWest Entertainment is also pondering a domestic distribution track for its Los Angeles-based international sales arm Seven Arts International. Seven Arts handled foreign sales on the Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel Jackson military drama The Rules Of Engagement which topped the North American box office this weekend for Paramount Pictures.