Sony Pictures Entertainment is reportedly in talks to take a 40% stake in UK National Lottery franchise DNA.

The deal would give Sony access to the $23.4m (£16m) in lottery cash that DNA has still not spent from its franchise of around $44m (£30m), as well as projects from Duncan Kenworthy and Andrew Macdonald, two of the UK's leading producers.

The move would be a massive boost for DNA Films. The Film Council, the support body which administers lottery funding, is not expected to renew any of the three franchises, which include Pathe Pictures and The Film Consortium, once they expire in two years.

It is unclear whether Universal Pictures, which backs DNA, would stay on board once its six year franchise for lottery cash expires in two years. The franchise's biggest budget film to date, Danny Boyle's sci-fi 28 Days Later, was made with 20th Century Fox.

Sony has long been trying to set up a European production presence based in the UK after the collapse of its joint venture with StudioCanal, The Bridge. The US studio was last year considering investing in Ealing Studios and was in the advanced stages of setting up a Scottish studio with Sean Connery before planning permission was denied.

Kenworthy's credits include Notting Hill and Four Weddings And A Funeral, while Macdonald produced Trainspotting. The franchise has also had its share of disappointments, however. It made an impact at the UK box-office with Steve Coogan vehicle The Parole Officer - although it spent heavily on p&a - but films such as The Final Curtain and Strictly Sinatra have sunk without trace.

Kenworthy said he could "neither confirm nor deny" a report in UK newspaper The Guardian this week.