MGM has bought North American rights on Werner Herzog's VietnamPOW drama Rescue Dawn,in advance of its world premiere in the Masters section here in Toronto today.

It's an unusual move for MGM to acquire a picture since itre-emerged under the guidance of chief operating officer Rick Sands primarilyas a distributor for suppliers like The Weinstein Company, Bauer Martinez andSidney Kimmel Entertainment. MGM plans a December 2006 release.

Rescue Dawn stars Christian Bale in the true survival story of American pilotDieter Dengler, who was shot down in Viet Cong territory and enduredunimaginable treatment before escaping into the unforgiving jungle. Steve Zahnand Jeremy Davies also star.

"We're very excited to be working with Herzog,"Sands said. "He is a legendarydirector, and he and Bale have brought this incredible and compelling story tothe screen in a raw and emotional film."

MGM's Scott Packman and Ayano Ichida negotiated the deal with Adam W Rosen of RosenFeig Golland & Lunn on behalf of the film-makers.

Steve Marlton, Elton Brand and Harry Knapp produced the Gibraltar Entertainment picture,and Jimmy de Brabant, Michael Dounaev, Kami Nagdi, Elie Samaha, Gerald Green,Nick Raslin and Freddy Braidy served as executive producers.