Walt Disney has signed on with sales agent NZ Film to distribute Black Sheep director Jonathan King's scary teen adventure Under The Mountain in New Zealand.

Sam Neill has been cast in the film, an adaptation of a 1979 Maurice Gee novel about teenage twins who battle the dark forces underneath the volcanoes of Auckland, New Zealand's biggest city. It goes into production in ten days.

'The story will contrast a contemporary Auckland city setting with a fantastic subterranean world beneath,' said King. Rangitoto Island, a volcano in the Hauraki Gulf, is one of the locations for the shoot, which runs through until October.

Capitol, through its THINKFilm label, was handling all sales except Australia and New Zealand up until only two months ago but now NZ Film is handling all territories. Investors include the New Zealand Film Commission through Film Fund 2, New Zealand on Air, Footprint Films, 120 dB Films, Ally Media Finance, and TVNZ.

King wrote the screenplay with Matthew Grainger, his partner in Index Films. The pair is producing alongside Richard Fletcher of Liberty Films, and the executive producers are Chris Hampson, Chris Bailey and Trevor Haysom (In My Father's Den).

The twins are being played by newcomers, Sophie McBride and Tom Cameron. Other cast members include Nathaniel Lees, Madelaine Sami, Matt Sunderland and Oliver Driver, who was in King's recent delightfully demented debut horror film Black Sheep.

Many from behind the Black Sheep cameras are also on board, including creature effects creator Richard Taylor from Weta Workshop, cinematographer Richard Bluck, editor Chris Plummer and Kim Sinclair, who this time shares the role of production designer with Ralph Davies. Composer Victoria Kelly's original score will be performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

Black Sheep won four international awards, grossed more than $590,000 (NZ$800,000) in New Zealand, $1.5m (NZ$2m) in the UK and was sold to 49 international territories. King and Grainger also wrote the recently completed The Tattooist, Peter Burger's debut.