Montage Entertainment, a Los Angeles-based company with strong Korean connections has become one of the two indie players to get a piece of Universal Pictures' mega-budget, monster hunter adventure Van Helsing, starring Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale.

Tube Entertainment will next year handle the Korean release of the picture, having been hired as theatrical distributor by rights holder Montage, which licensed Van Helsing from Focus Features.

Gaga Communications bought Japanese rights at AFM to the film which is Universal's tentpole release next summer and is directed by Stephen Sommers, the director behind Universal's Mummy franchise. It is scheduled to open on May 7, 2004, echoing the early May releases of the blockbusting Mummy films.

Japan and Korea are the only two territories being sold by Universal in deals brokered by Focus.

Montage, which is headed by president Ku Sung and executive vice president Daniel Chang, was also instrumental in separating Korean rights to Paramount Pictures and Mutual Entertainment's Tomb Raider II.

Tube Entertainment, which was recently resuscitated by a cash injection from Tube Investments and is now bidding to make a big splash as a distributor, which will again handle theatrical rights as Montage's sub-distributor. Tube Entertainment separately has a longstanding relationship with Mutual.

Meanwhile Universal has also offloaded Japanese rights to its epic science fiction picture The Chronicles Of Riddick to Amuse Pictures, which is now a division of Toshiba Corp. The big budget sequel to Pitch Black, The Chronicles Of Riddick stars Vin Diesel and Judi Dench and is directed by David Twohy.

Mike Goodridge contributed to this report