Magnolia Pictures' Magnet has acquired North American rights to Prachya Pinkaew's martial arts action film Chocolate following its recent world premiere in Toronto's Midnight Madness genre sidebar

The film played in Austin's Fantastic Fest last weekend and took runner-up prize in the Audience Award.Magnet closed the deal on Monday night
for a mid-six figure sum and plans to release in 2009.

Pinkaew, whose credits include the hit Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior, cast newcomer Jeeja Vismistananda in the lead as an autistic girl who learns the Muay Thai martial arts discipline by watching classic martial arts videos.

'Magnet has had a long tradition of debuting action stars like Tony Jaa, Dan Chupong, David Belle, Marko Zaror, and now we're fortunate enough to launch our first female action star: Jeeja Vismistananda,' Magnolia's senior vice president Tom Quinn said.

'Chocloate proves Jeeja is as hard hitting as the big boys and fans will be delighted by Prachya's return to kick-ass action.'

Quinn brokered the deal with Gilbert Lim representing Sahamongkolfilm International.