Stewart Till's Signpost Films has established its first international distribution arm, partnering with Hoyts Distribution to form Signpost Films Australia.

Signpost Films Australia will control the marketing and distribution of Signpost films in Australia and New Zealand, managing and funding all marketing and P&A costs. Hoyts will provide a theatrical sales function and office space.

In video, Signpost will utilise Sony/Columbia Tri Star under Hoyts' agreement. The new company will open its doors in January 2003.

"This is one of those unique opportunities," said Darryl Iwai, Signpost's president of worldwide distribution. "We look forward to working with them in Australia's vibrant marketplace.'

Hoyts Distribution has handled Monster's Ball and Van Wilder: Party Liaison. Upcoming releases include Australian feature Dirty Deeds and Carolina, starring Julia Stiles, Alessandro Nivola and Shirley MacLaine.

Signpost said the Australia/New Zealand market has grown to represent 6% of the international market. The last five years have seen a 30% increase in cinema screens and a 40% increase in box office figures.

Signpost recently launched a Canadian distribution operation but quickly pulled the plug. The company's first two films are Bulletproof Monk, currently shooting in Toronto, and The House Of Sand And Fog, which is scheduled to start shooting in September.