New UK sales company, Moviehouse Entertainment has unveiled a $10m supernatural thriller, The Smoking Man, and satirical comedy The Rage In Placid Lake as the first pictures of its 2002 slate.

The company is run by former J&M Entertainment head of sales Gary Phillips and Mark Vennis, formerly a director of film financiers Mansfield Associates, with financial backing from the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The Smoking Man (the name is that of a character in The X-Files cult television series) is to be directed by former X-Files director Paul Shapiro. It tells the story of the strange and horrific events that befall an American woman who travels to Vietnam with her son. It will shoot late this year in Vietnam and is produced by Jim McElroy, Scott Kennedy and Tristan Orpen Lynch.

First off is The Rage In Placid Lake an A$5m ($2.6m) Australian film by Tony McNamara, as an adaptation of his own stageplay The Cafe Latte Kid. Starring local music star Ben Lee, Rose Byrne and Miranda Richardson, the picture about teenage self-discovery shoots from March 4 on location in Australia.

Moviehouse, which aims to handle five to six films in its first full year, will take investment positions on some films and represent others on a fee-basis. It invested in both pictures announced so far.

"Although the [sales] business has become much tougher in recent years, we felt that there are opportunities, particularly in London, for a producer and talent-friendly dedicated sales operation run on a lean and focused basis," said Vennis in a previous interview with ScreenDaily.