Marc Abraham and Tom Bliss' new production outfit Strike Entertainment has struck a multi-year distribution deal with Toho-Towa in Japan kicking off with Strike's first production Dawn Of The Dead.

Strike sealed a four-year, first-look deal with Universal Pictures in May 2002 for distribution in the US and numerous other territories.

Abraham and Bliss, who were previously teamed with Armyan Bernstein in Beacon Communications, have sold key territories on their pictures such as Spy Game, Air Force One, The Family Man and Bring It On, for many years.

Under the Universal deal for Strike, Bliss has negotiated to handle Japan, Scandinavia and some smaller territories himself and the UK and France on certain pictures.

He has a formal output deal in place with Nordisk Film for Scandinavia and sold Dawn Of The Dead to Entertainment Film Distributors in the UK and Metropolitan Filmexport in France.

He has ongoing relationships with Pinema in Turkey, Nu Metro in South Africa, Forum in Israel, Italia Film in the Middle East and Samfilm in Iceland.

"Toho-Towa is providing us with a small amount of development overhead which is recoupable against the advance for the picture," explained Bliss to Screen International.

Toho-Towa recently signed a deal to finance all overheads relating to Mark Gordon's new three-year production deal with Columbia Pictures in return for distribution rights in Japan to his pictures. Toho-Towa is also a partner in Gordon's former venture Mutual Film Company.

"We are excited to work with the pre-eminent producers of Strike Entertainment," said Toho-Towa president Hisanori Hiranuma. The deal was negotiated by Bliss and Toho-Towa's Goji Komatsu. Steve Hirsch is Toho Towa's Los Angeles representative.

The Strike production team, which is also composed of Eric Newman and Phil Altmann, has other films in development including Children Of Men with Alfonso Cuaron attached to direct, Beautiful Killer to star Jessica Alba and Miss Fortune to star Nia Vardalos.

Dawn Of The Dead will be released by Universal in North America in March 2004 and by Toho-Towa in Japan in May. A remake of George Romero's 1978 zombie classic, it is directed by Zack Snyder and stars Sarah Polley, Jake Weber, Ving Rhames and Mekhi Phifer.