Magnet Releasing has acquired US rights from HanWay Films to Christopher Smith’s medieval thriller Black Death starring Sean Bean.

Magnet plans a first quarter 2011 theatrical release and this is the company’s third acquisition announcement of the week after Vanishing On 7th Street and The Troll Hunter.

In a press release Magnet said the film was reminiscent of TheWicker Man and Witchfinder General and stars Bean as the leader of a gang charged by the Church with investigating reported paganism in an English village. Magnolia distributed Christopher Smith’s cult hit Severence in 2007.

Black Death debuted in the US last week at Screamfest in Los Angeles, where it won best director, actor, cinematography for Sebastian Edschmid and score for Christian Henson.

“On the one hand it is a violent historical drama and on the other, a terrifying horror movie, in which the more realistically I shot the past, the more it reflected the present,” Smith said. “A time when in spite of the fact people were dying of the plague, they still found the time to torture and kill each other.”

Magnet’s senior vice-president Tom Quinn negotiated the acquisition with Tim Haslam of HanWay.