Los Angeles-based Nu Image has struck a multi-title distribution with Japan's Pony Canyon kicking off with Sylvester Stallone's upcoming action film The Expendables starring Stallone, Jason Statham and Jet Li with Forest Whitaker and Mickey Rourke in talks to join the cast.

The story centres on a mercenary suicide mission to overthrow a Latin American dictator. Stallone will direct from his own screenplay and production is scheduled to kick off in February on location in Brazil and Louisiana. The deal includes Command Performance and Way Of War.

'We have come close several times but are thrilled to finally be working with Pony Canyon,' Nu Image's president of international sales and distribution Christian Mercuri said. 'They are obviously major players in the Japanese market so very important to the overall distribution of our films. I hope is the first of many deals with them.'

Pony Canyon's executive managing director Hirofumi Ogoshi added: 'We are very excited in closing our first deal with Nu Image. They understand the international market well and produce films that are both unique and commercially successful. We believe with the incredible line-up of int'l action stars The Expendables will be very successful in Japan and around the globe, and we look forward to continuing our business partnership with Nu Image.'