New Films International (NFI)has acquired Michael Radford's The Merchant Of Venice for distribution across Latin America, EasternEurope, Turkey and the Baltic States, in a deal struck with Arclight Films

The $30m Shakespeareadaptation, which stars Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons and Lynn Collins, is currentlyin production in Luxembourg and scheduled for release in 2005. Ron Gell, vicepresident of worldwide acquisitions and co-productions for NFI, negotiated thesale with Nicolas Chartier on behalf of Arclight.

Atthe same time, Los Angeles-based NFI has launched a production and salesdivision, earmarking $10m for development and production for 2004. The companyplans to produce two or three projects a year and will also invest in projectsby allocating completion funds.

The Latin American side tothe company will benefit from three new offices and the appointment of formerWorld Bazaar International senior sales executive Izak Saul as vice presidentof Latin American markets.

NFI, which was set up in1996, has bought films from the likes of Miramax, New Line and Focus Features.Recent territorial acquisitions include Chicago, A Man Apart, Duplex and Freddy VsJason.