Lions Gate Filmshas picked up North American theatrical and pay TV rights from El CaminoPictures to Shainee Gabel's family drama A Love Song For Bobby Long.

Lions Gate plans a platform release on Dec 29 and willexpand nationally in mid-January. The picture premiered at Venice recently.

Written anddirected by Shainee Gabel, the story centres on the developing relationshipbetween a teenage loner who returns to her late mother's house and the twofriends of her mother she discovers there.

ScarlettJohansson and John Travolta star in the lead roles with Deborah Kara Unger,Gabriel Machz and Dane Rhodes.

Sony Picturesunit Screen Gems was originally attached to distribute the film in the US andCanada and indeed Sony retains domestic home video and DVD rights.

Bob Yari's ElCamino Pictures financed the project, with Yari, R Paul Miller and DavidLancaster producing and Brad Krevoy, Randall Emmett and George Furla serving asexecutive producers.

Lions Gate'ssenior vice president of acquisitions Jason Constantine and company presidentTom Ortenberg negotiated the deal with William Morris Independent co-heads RenaRonson and Cassian Elwes, Yari Film Group chief operating officer Neil Sacker,and Gary Hirsch, who is senior vice president of acquisitions and businessaffairs at Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment.

Kathy MorganInternational is handling international sales

"Shainee Gabelhas directed John Travolta and Scarlett Johansson to the best performances oftheir careers," Ortenberg said in a statement.

"We are proud to beassociated with this talented new filmmaking voice, and to be bringing herfeature film debut to audiences across America this holiday season."