United Artists (UA) has acquired US rights to Michael Moore's gun control documentary Bowling For Columbine, marking the first domestic deal of this year's festival. The studio division of MGM beat out a clutch of distributors bidding for the film including Miramax and Fine Line, paying a reported $1.5m.

The deal was closed between Bingham Ray, president of UA, and Charlotte Mickie, managing director, international motion picture sales, Alliance Atlantis Entertainment Group which has worldwide rights to the film with John Sloss of Cinetic Media on behalf of Alliance Atlantis.

The film was produced by Moore's company Dog Eat Dog and Alliance Atlantis-owned Salter Street Films; Alliance Atlantis will release it in Canada.

"The entire United Artists team, Danny Rosett, Sara Rose, Jack Turner and Dennis O'Connor strongly feel this provocative work is destined to be one of the most talked about films of the year - stirring debate, controversy and dialogue on this most timely topic," said Ray in a statement.

Meanwhile Alliance Atlantis has sold its family film Virginia's Run starring Gabriel Byrne and Joanne Whalley to Constellation Entertainment in the US. Constellation, a US independent run by J David Williams and Michael Harpster, plans to release the film during the first week of October.