Miramax Films has taken a minority share in Stewart Till's Signpost Films as part of a deal to handle US distribution for the would-be studio.

Miramax will have the first option on US rights to Signpost titles and has agreed to release a minimum number of films. The Weinsteins' powerhouse is understood to have a stake in Signpost of just under 10%, although it is to pay for the holding over a period of time out of the pre-agreed amounts it stumps up for Signpost films rather than hand over any cash up front.

MGM was also circling Signpost, but appears to have hesitated over Christmas as it emerged that the studio might be sold. Signpost has a production deal with Charles Roven's Atlas Entertainment, which has a first-look deal with MGM that will continue for the time being. Canada's CDP, which is Signpost's main backer, has a small stake in MGM.

"In the US our strategy has always been to put our product through an existing distributor," said Till. "After discussions with several studios, I could not be more delighted that we have come to this agreement with Miramax. Its reputation for aggressive, creative and effective distribution is second to none."

Till plans to distribute his own films in major international territories, setting up distribution on a territory-by-territory basis. Sales to the remaining international territories will be handled in-house.

The former PolyGram Filmed Entertainment international chief aims to make four to six films in its first year, expanding its output to up to forty films in the first five years with an estimated production and distribution spend of over $2 billion. The venture is encompass to films ranging from big budget event movies to lower budget niche-driven fare.

"We anticipate great things from Signpost," said Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of Miramax.