Japanese trilogy 20th Century Boys is shaping up to be one of the hottest Asian projects in the market, with Nippon Television Network (NTV) closing a slew of sales to Asian territories in the run-up to Cannes.

Key among the deals is the acquisition of all Korean rights by exhibitor-distributor Megabox. It represents Megabox's biggest purchase to date since expanding into film distribution early last year. The deal was negotiated by NTV's Fumiko Nagata and Megabox's Jang Kyungik and Nelly Chang.

'Releasing 20th Century Boys is monumental for us, since it will be our first film to go wider than 200 screens. We're expecting the trilogy to be the biggest ever hit Japanese series in Korea,' said Jang.

NTV started selling the $60m manga adaptation at this year's Filmart in Hong Kong. It has also gone to Golden Harvest for Hong Kong and Taiwan, M Pictures for Thailand and Encore Films for Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. All buyers bought the trilogy of films

Executive producer Seiji Okuda commented on the films' pre-release success: 'Since securing the rights to produce a live-action version, we've received a flood of distribution offers from overseas. We are very pleased to have finalised deals with prominent distributors across Asia.'

A hot property in Japan for many years, the battle for rights to the best-selling manga ended five years ago, since when NTV has been developing the trilogy.

The films are directed by Yukihiko Tsutsumi and star Toshiaki Karasawa, Etsushi Toykawa and Takako Tokiwa.

The first film is set for an August 30 release in Japan, while the second and third installments are slated for release in six month gaps, hitting the lucrative New Year's season at the beginning of next year and summer 2009. The first two films were shot back-to-back, while the third goes into production around the release of part one.

As with NTV's recent hit L: Change The World, the films are set to open on the same day or in close proximity in all territories.

In what's believed to be a first in Japanese film, the trilogy of films covers the entire 24 volumes of the original manga, which has sold over 20 million copies in Japan and has proven popular in manga-hungry foreign territories France and Italy.