Icon Film Distribution has boarded Intermedia and BBC Films' highly-anticipated period drama Assumption Of The Virgin for the UK.

The UK distribution arm of Mel Gibson and Bruce Davey's Icon Entertainment beat two rivals to the tentatively-titled adaptation of Katie Campbell's novel, which is expected to shoot in Italy in the autumn. Icon took theatrical and video rights to the project from BBC Films, which retained UK rights when Intermedia boarded as international sales agent.

Benicio Del Toro, Geoffrey Rush, Chloe Sevigny and Juliette Binoche are to star, with DreamWorks handling US distribution.

Directed by Walter Salles, the fact-based story sees Binoche playing a nun lured away from her convent by the Renaissance painter Fra Lippi, to be played by Del Toro. Carolyn Choa is producing with David Lascelles. Executive producers are Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack through their Mirage Enterprises and Mark Shivas and David Thompson, head of BBC Films. Minghella wrote the script with Leigh Jackson.

Intermedia last week struck a four-title deal with Momentum Pictures for the UK. The pact, the first between the two outfits, is headlined by the tentatively-titled Plague Season, Ron Shelton's story of LA police in the run up to the Rodney King riots. Momentum also bought all UK rights to Wisegirls, starring Mariah Carey and Mira Sorvino, dark comedy Clay Pigeons and hip hop documentary Scratch.