Luc Besson'sEuropaCorp will co-produce Thai director Wisit Sasanatieng's (Tears of the Black Tiger) next projectwith Five Star Production Company.

The deal marks the French mini-major's first full-fleged forayinto Asian film production, having previously produced films such as the French/Japanese thriller Wasabi in the French language.

Titled Nam Prix (which translates as hot chilli sauce), Nam Prix will start shooting early nextyear in Thailand for a late-2006 delivery with a budget estimated around the $3million mark.

According to EuropaCorp's artistic advisor Francois DaSilva, in Bangkok for the launch of the project, his company is looking atseveral other Asian projects with the aim of co-producing more films in theregion.

EuropaCorp has an ongoing relationship with Sasanatieng: earlier this year, the French mini-majorpicked up US and European sales rights to the director's current film, Citizen Dog, also produced by Five Star.Previously, it handled French distribution on Sasanatieng'sdebut, Tears of the Black Tiger,which was the first Thai film invited to screen in Un Certain Regard at Cannesin 2001.

Europa's ties with Thailand also stretch beyond Sasanatieng. Among the films it has handled for international sales are Tanit Jitnukul Bangrajan and Prachya Pinkaew's Ong-bak.

Sasanatieng first developed the story for Nam Prix seven yearsago; a food-based tale, it melds an ancient myth with a famous Thai dish andhis script was selected for the Pusan Promotion Planin 2002.

Five Star,established in 1973, is one of Thailand'soldest production houses. This year, it has Thai distribution rights on Pen-ek Ratanaruang's current project Invisible Waves, having co-produced his Last Life In TheUniverse. Five Star is also developing four otherprojects, including Art of the Devil 2,Dead On Air, 30 Years Later andBedside Stories - the last two are being co-produced with GMM Tai Hub.