Magnet, the recently launched genre arm of Magnolia Pictures, has acquired North American rights to Thai martial arts action title Chocolate from Sahamongkolfilm International.

Directed by Prachya Pinkaew (Ong Bak) and starring newcomer Jeeja Vismistananda, the film recently screened in the Midnight Madness section at Toronto and took the Audience Award runner-up prize at Austin's Fantastic Fest.

North American rights to the film were previously sold to The Weinstein Company (TWC), but Sahamongkolfilm took the rights back at the same time that TWC passed back Tony Jaa's long-in-production Ong Bak 2.

Chocolate, which was a box office hit when it was released in Thailand this February, follows an autistic girl who learns Muay Thai via marathon screenings of Tony Jaa and Bruce Lee movies.

'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. Chocolate proves Jeeja is as hard hitting as the big boys and fans will be delighted by Prachya's return to kick-ass action,' said Magnolia senior vice president Tom Quinn.

The deal was negotiated by Magnolia's Quinn with Gilbert Lim representing Sahamongkolfilm International. Magnet will release the film theatrically in 2009.