Lionsgate has acquired North American rights from Lakeshore Entertainment to the upcoming action thrillers Game, starring Gerard Butler, and Crank 2: High Voltage with Jason Statham (pictured) reprising his original role in the $25m sequel.

Lakeshore holds international rights to both titles and is anticipating strong buyer interest at this week's AFM in Santa Monica.

The original action thriller Crank, made in 2006, pre-sold everywhere before it went into production. Wth an April 1 start date for Crank 2: High Voltage, Lakeshore's chairman and CEO Tom Rosenberg told ScreenDaily that he expected both this and Game to have completely pre-sold by the end of AFM.

Rosenberg said he regards both Butler and Statham as action stars with global
appeal and 'fantastic trajectories'. Noting the pre-strike jitters, Rosenberg added: 'We have real projects - this isn't speculative. We don't announce films unless they're really happening.'

Both new films are written and will be directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, the same creative team that wrote and directed the first Crank.

Lionsgate previously partnered with Lakeshore on Crank as well as the upcoming 2008 release Midnight Meat Train. 'I've known the people at Lionsgate for a long time and they're an important partner for us,' Rosenberg said. 'They took a chance on the Crank directors and we felt they should be the first to consider the sequel.'

Game, which is budgeted at $60m, is set to begin principal photography in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Nov 5 and stars Butler as the hero of a brutal online multiplayer game devised by a shadowy technical genius played by Michael C Hall.

A strong supporting cast features Alison Lohman, John Leguizamo, Kyra Sedgwick, Amber Valletta and Zoe Bell.

Lakeshore's Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi and Skip Williamson are producing.

Statham reprises his role in Crank 2: High Voltage as the hitman Chev Chelios who this time must find the Chinese gangster who has literally stolen his heart and replaced it with a battery powered device. Rosenberg, Lucchesi, Williamson, and Richard Wright will produce.

Lakeshore is also selling at AFM Oliver Stone's drama Pinkville about the investigation into the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War. Bruce Willis, Channing Tatum and Woody Harrelson star and production is set to begin in Thailand on Dec 10. MGM holds North American rights.

The deal for Game was negotiated for Lionsgate by executive vice president of corporate operations Wayne Levin and Lakeshore chief operating officer Eric Reid.

The deal for Crank 2: High Voltage was negotiated for Lionsgate by senior vice president of legal and business affairs and acquisitions Wendy Jaffe and Reid.