Lions Gate Films closed a deal yesterday in Toronto to buy US rights to Gaspar Noe's super-controversial Irreversible, the scandale of this year's Cannes Film Festival which is also screening at this week's Toronto International Film Festival.

Kicked off by a harrowing rape scene, Irreversible tells its story in reverse with a cast including Vincent Cassel, Monica Bellucci and Albert Dupontel. Noe's last film Seul Contre Tous was handled by Strand Releasing in the US.

Lions Gate Films president Tom Ortenberg said he was undecided as to how the film would be released in the US, unrated or as an NC-17, an MPAA rating which is traditionally shunned by exhibitors, although the NC-17 is unlikely to affect a foreign-language film like Irreversible. He said the company is planning a spring 2003 release.

Lions Gate bought the film from Muse Productions' Chris Hanley and Phil Rosen. Negotiating for Lions Gate were Ortenberg, Peter Block, Jason Constantine and Wendy Jaffe. Lions Gate has worked with Muse before on Muse-produced films American Psycho, Buffalo 66 and Bully.