Hong Kong producer and seller Media Asia has struck one ofthe largest ever intra-Asian deals for its forthcoming car-racing thriller Initial D.

The film, which goes into production in Japan on June 2, hasbeen bought jointly by Gaga Communications and Avex Inc, the multimedia companywhich has previously handled the Japanese comics and TV series from which thefilm is derived.

Industry sources place the value of the deal in the regionof $3m, though neither company would confirm the size of the license fee.

The film is directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak, theco-directors of Media Asia's smash hit trilogy Infernal Affairs. A youngall-star cast is headed by Japan's Jay Chou and Ann Suzuki and Infernal Affairsalumni Edison Chen, Shawn Yue, Chapman To and Anthony Wong. Jordan Chan alsostars.

"We will release the film next year on more than 200 printsand work closely with Media Asia to produce a pan-Asian release," said NickMarumo, president and CEO of Gaga Communications.

"We have previously worked together with Gaga, but have notbefore made a joint acquisition," said Avex operating officer Taka Nagasawa."The whole purpose of this joint buy is to leverage the maximum marketingbenefits from our experience with the Initial D products."

"Crucially for a film with a Japanese theme, we haveassembled the dream distribution team in Japan. Gaga reopened the market for Hong Kong films with its successfulhandling of Shaolin Soccer," saidMedia Asia sales chief Jeffrey Chan.