Japanese distributor TheKlockworx Company is boldly stepping into the US distribution market, teamingup with US independent Pathfinder Pictures to buy and release films in the US.

Klockworx plans to acquirebetween 20 and 30 films for theatrical and DVD release in its first year ofoperation, about half of which will go theatrical. Each will be allotted atotal acquisition and P&A budget in the $7m to $10m range. Pathfinder'sexisting distribution infrastructure will handle the new titles.

The first film under thenewly formed Pathfinder/Klockworx label will be Klockworx's own Gozu, Takashi Miike's film about a mob hitman slowlylosing his mind, which screened at the the Cannes and Toronto Film Festivalslast year. It will be released in New York and Los Angeles in June.

The new deal gives Klockworxthe ability to buy US and Japanese rights as a package from film sellers andproducers, which it sees as a major negotiating tool.

The deal for Gozu was negotiated by Klockworx president and CEONobuhiko Sakoh, managing director Kana Koido and senior executive vicepresident Itaru Fujimoto and Pathfinder Pictures managing director Taka Araiand head of distribution and acquisitions Gregory Hatanaka.

Pathfinder will continue torelease its own theatrical and DVD titles through the Pathfinder label as wellas the Klockworx titles. Among Pathfinder's releases have been Abel Ferrara's R'Xmas, Blindness starring Vivian Wu, Latino comedy Loco Love and, on DVD, The Films Of Claude Chabrol and martialarts classic Master Of The Flying Guillotine. The company is also planning theatrical releases ontwo other Takashi Miike pictures Agitator and Andromeda and hasjust completed production on the drama Until The Night with Norman Reedus, Kathleen Robertson and SeanYoung.

Meanwhile Klockworx willcontinue its core distribution business in Japan. Among its many credits are TheBlair Witch Project, The Triplets Of Belleville, He Got Game, Shaolin Soccer,Millenium Actress, Iron Ladies and The Eye. Upcoming releases include Super Size Me and the US remake of The Grudge, while the company's producing credits includeVicenzo Natali's Nothing and Thaifestival favourite Last Life In The Universe.