Miramax International may have opted not to attend London and MIFED but it is closing deals by phone in New York and has sold a four-picture package to Gaga Communications for Japan.

Gaga, the only Japanese buyer attending the markets in force, stopped in New York en route to London and met with Miramax distribution chairman Rick Sands to negotiate the acquisition. The package is topped by the film of musical Chicago directed by Rob Marshall and stars Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renee Zellwegger.

The other films in the deal were Walter Salles' Behind The Sun, romantic comedy On The Line starring two members of N Sync and Stephen Chow's football comedy Shaolin Soccer.

Sands also struck two deals in Scandinavia, with Nordisk for four films - Salma Hayek-starrer Frida, Leon Ichaso's Pinero, David Zucker's The Guest with Ashton Kutcher and Tara Reid and horror sequel Mimic 2; and with Sandrews for four - Chicago, thriller Below directed by David Twohy, Kevin Smith's Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back and Stolen Summer, the winner of the Project Greenlight contest featuring Aidan Quinn and Bonnie Hunt and produced by Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Chris Moore.

Sands said that over the phone during the week he and his team have sold out in smaller territories such as Greece (with Village Roadshow), Iceland, Israel, Russia, Portugal and the Philippines and that he is close to sealing Germany, Italy and France on the new films

Meanwhile, Miramax Films and Buena Vista International (UK) are close to jointly acquiring the hotly contested UK rights to Intermedia/BBC Films' Iris, the eagerly awaited biopic of Iris Murdoch starring Judi Dench and Kate Winslet as the novelist at different times of her life. The film, which Miramax will release for Oscar consideration for a week in December, had been the subject of a fierce bidding war, attracting offers from all major and independent distributors in the UK. Miramax is also understood to be buying worldwide rights on another BBC Films title, Stephen Frears' Dirty Pretty Things which marks the English-language acting debut of French sensation Audrey Tatou (Amelie).