In what could be the nexttrue indicator in confirming Bac FilmsInternational's The White Planet (La Planete Blanche) as this year's documentary to watchthe French company has announced its North American sale to National Geographicand Paramount Classics.

The film, a $12m (Euros 10m)documentary about life in the North Pole, was culled from over three years offootage shot in the Arctic. Ranging from darkest winter to summer sun, "asplendid opera of wildlife plays out," on the ice shelf according to Bac.

All eyes have been watchingthe film, which has pre-sold to 26 territories, which is seen as this year'spotential successor to March Of The Penguins - a point suggested by Screen International in its January 27issue regarding the foreign language films to watch in 2006.

Whether The White Planet can repeat Penguins'extraordinary success remains to be seen. The Antarctic set Penguins has grossed a phenomenal $115mworldwide, making it the second highest grossing documentary of all time. Ofthis $77.4m was accounted for in North America wherethe French-language documentary was redubbed with anarration by Morgan Freeman. It is likely Paramount Classics will follow asimilar route.

Penguinsalso helped French films enjoy a 49% year-on-year increase in internationalsales. The film recorded over 16 million admissions outside France and 1.8 million in France.

Planet's first test willcome when it releases wide in France on March 22 through Bac's distribution arm. Belgium will follow a week later through Cineart,while a July 27 date has been confirmed in the Netherlands through A-Film Distribution.

Directed by Thierry Ragobert and Thierry Piantanida, The White Planet was produced by Stephane Milliere of France's Gedeon, a subsidiary of Bac parent company Millimages. National Geographic and Paramount Classicspartnered on the deal for all rights.