Splendid Pictures has signed on to represent international sales on The Painted Veil, the first film from Stratus Film Co, the independent production outfit unveiled recently by Hollywood super-producer Mark Gordon, former Miramax LA president Mark Gill and financier Bob Yari.

Edward Norton and Naomi Watts are to star in the film, which is currently out to directors.

Norton is also producing Painted Veil alongside Sara Colleton (executive producer of HBO's forthcoming Live From Baghdad) and France's Jean-Francois Fonlupt (Toronto festival titles The Sea and Ginostra) who brought the project to Stratus after originally placing it with UGC International two years ago with Norton and Nicole Kidman attached.

Scripted by Ron Nyswaner (Philadelphia) from the novel by W Somerset Maugham, The Painted Veil will shoot in South East Asia in the second quarter of 2003. Norton plays a missionary doctor in Hong Kong in 1920 who ventures into a region stricken by a cholera outbreak in order to stop an adulterous affair between his wife (Watts) and a diplomat.

Gordon, Yari and Gill are executive producing the picture and handling the domestic deal, with Splendid's international sales chief Lisa Wilson already closing deals here. Yari brought the film to Splendid following a long relationship with Splendid's CEO David Glasser at his former company Cutting Edge Entertainment. Yari is executive producer on Splendid's other major MIFED offering - Bille August's Without Apparent Motive starring Richard Gere.

Glasser said he was excited at the relationship although there was as yet no formal agreement for Splendid to represent further product from Stratus.

Stratus plans to make three to four "high quality" films a year in the $10m to $40m range. It operates separately from Gordon's Fox-based production ouftit, which has Roland Emmerich's super-expensive The Day After Tomorrow currently before the cameras.