MiramaxFilms beat out all-comers to Takeshi Kitano's Venice prize winner Zatoichi yesterday, buying rights in the US, Latin America andAustralia in Toronto over the weekend from Celluloid Dreams.

Thedeal was the only festival title clinched at Toronto but two other domesticdeals were closed: Newmarket Films acquired US theatrical rights to the AileenWuornos biopic Monster starringCharlize Theron from MDP Worldwide, and TLA Releasing closed a deal on NorthAmerican theatrical and home entertainment to David Gleeson's Irishcoming-of-age drama Cowboys And Angels from Media Luna.

Zatoichi, a talking point of Venice, stars Kitano as a blindwandering swordsman who saves a village run by a sinister sword-swinginggangsters and powerful samurai. Produced by Masayuki Mori for Office Kitano, itwon the best director award at Venice in addition to the audience award forbest picture.

AgnesMentre, executive vice president of acquisitions and co-production, and MaevaGatineau, vice president of acquisitions, first saw Zatoichi at Venice and the deal was completed at Toronto.

Mentreand David Miercort, senior vice president of acquisitions and business affairs,negotiated the agreement on behalf of Miramax.Hengameh Panahi negotiatedon behalf of Celluloid Dreams and Office Kitano.

MeanwhileNewmarket plans to open Monsterin December this year in time for Academy consideration and expand into furthermarkets in January. The film, which has not yet appeared at any film festival,sees Theron reinvent her glamourous image to play the prostitute and multiplemurderer who was executed in Florida last year. Christina Ricci plays hergirlfriend Selby Wall in the film, and Bruce Dern is her friend Thomas. Thefilm was written and directed by Patty Jenkins.

"Charlizegives a riveting performance, making a complete transformation into AileenWuornos," said Newmarket Films president Bob Berney in a statment."It's ashocking and strangely moving film that we are extremely proud to add to ourroster."

DEJProductions has acquired all other North American rights and will collaboratewith Newmarket on the theatrical release.

TheNewmarket deal was brokered by Berney and his partners, William Tyrer and ChrisBall, with business affairs executive Robert Fyvolent and for MDP by DavidGarber of Lantern Lane and attorney Greg Bernstein.

OnSaturday, Philadelphia-based TLA closed the deal on Cowboys And Angels which it had been pursuing since Cannes when it hadits first market screening.

TLA,which specialized in gay-themed pictures, was represented in the deal bypartner and director of acquisitions Richard A Wolff, while Media Luna wasrepresented by managing director Ida Martins.

The film is thestory of a civil servant and his gay fashion design student roommate who getlost in the drugged-out club scene of Limerick