Picturehouse has swooped on North American rights to ElCantante following itsworld premiere at Toronto in what sources close to negotiations said was thebiggest deal of the festival so far.

The distributors' senior vice president of acquisitions Sara Roseand New Line's executive vice president of business affairs and co-productionsCarolyn Blackwood concluded marathon talks with Endeavor's Graham Taylor andWMi's Cassian Elwes at 5.30 on Friday morning. Several other bidders had beeninvolved.

Picturehouse president Bob Berney highlighted El Cantante's core Latino appeal and said it had thepotential to be a crossover hit when he plans to release initially on 500-700prints around July 2007.

Jennifer Lopez and husband Marc Anthony star in the story of thePuerto Rican salsa pioneer Hector Lavoe, which was directed by Leon Ichaso anddebuted on Tuesday evening.

"We had been looking for a film that would reach out to theLatino audience and this has two major stars who have such credibility withthat audience," Berney, who has masterminded such releases as My BigFat Greek Wedding and ThePassion Of The Christ,said. "The Latino audience is hungry for films aimed at them and Jenniferwill also bring that crossover appeal.

"It's really infectious and sexy and the two leadsare sensational together. This is their baby and they're really proud of it andare eager to go out in support of the film."

Lopez produced with Julio Caro, Simon Fields, and David Maldonado.Ichaso co-wrote the screenplay with David Darmstaeder and Todd Anthony Bello.

The deal added some spark to a slow week of business at thefestival, which ends on Sunday. Nicolas Chartier at Voltage Pictures ishandling international sales and has already reported strong interest frombuyers.

Picturehouse'supcoming releases include Steven Shainberg's Fur, which stars Nicole Kidman and RobertDowney Jr, and Guillermo del Toro's gothic fairy tale Pan's Labyrinth, which screened at the festival.