Newmarket Films has picked up US rights from Cinetic Media to Alejandro Amenabar’s historical drama Agora starring Rachel Weisz following the film’s sensational run in Spain.

Newmarket plans to release in the first half of 2010 and Agora marks its first acquisition since Exclusive Media Group (EMG) bought the company earlier this month.

The film’s astonishing $29.1m run in Spain through Fox International has been a catalyst for the domestic sale, which has taken time to materialise following a muted reception in Cannes. Agora recently received its North American premiere in Toronto and has been cut since its world premiere on the Croisette. Focus Features International is handling international sales.

MOD Productions, Himenoptero and Telecinco Cinema produced Agora with the participation of Canal + Spain. Weisz stars as astronomer who tries to save the teachings of Ancient Egypt as Alexandria is engulfed by riots. Oscar Isaac and Max Minghella round out the key cast.

“Alejandro Amenabar has crafted a film that not only offers a visual spectacle but also deals with religious intolerance in a way that makes this film feel modern and relevant even though it is set centuries ago,” EMG co-chairman Ball, who brokered the sale with Cinetic, said.

“We are proud to be the ones taking this film to US audiences who will find that this film offers epic storytelling at its finest.”