Continuing its buying spree of international films, Miramax Films is in the final stages of picking up domestic rights to Japanese sci-fi fantasy Avalon directed by Mamoru Oshii whose credits include cult movies Ghost In The Shell and Patlabor.

The film, which - bizarrely enough - was shot in Poland and in the Polish language, is set in a computer-generated game world in which players can perform superhuman acts of violence. The subtitled film opened on Jan 20 this year and has grossed over $400,000 in just nine major cities. Nippon Herald released the film domestically and is negotiating the US sale to Miramax.

Malgorzata Foremniak plays the stony-faced heroine with Wladyslaw Kowalski as the game master. The film, which already has a cult following in Japan, is shot in three distinct tones representing worlds in and out of the game.

Its success continues a wave of Japanese crossover hits from Pokemon to current ultra-violent phenomenon Battle Royale. Miramax previously bought Japanese animated smash Princess Mononoke and reformatted it as a dubbed American film with a new cast of voices.