Exhibitor Hoyts General Cinema (HGC) South America has agreed to handle Latin American distribution of several titles from Phoenix World Investments (PWI), the Chile-based outpost of US independent producer-distributor Kushner-Locke.

The deal calls for the distribution of PWI films in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, starting with Very Bad Things which was released in the US in November 1998.

HGC - a two-year old joint venture between Australian exhibitor Hoyts Cinemas and US circuit General Cinema - currently operates 91 screens in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil with 41 more due to open in Argentina, its principal market.

"We have no intention of straying from our core business, exhibition, but we are committed to promoting independent films," said HGC senior vice president Mike Murphy.

HGC will also handle South American distribution of Kushner-Locke''s Mambo Cafe, starring Latina pop superstar Thalia. Talks are also underway for HGC to handle Kushner-Locke''s Picking Up The Pieces directed by Alfonso Arau and starring Woody Allen.

HGC plans to demonstrate its support for independent film in the region this April when it sponsors the Buenos Aires Independent Film Festival.