Universal Pictures International (UPI) and Focus Features are teaming up with Korea's CJ Entertainment to co-produce award-winning director Park Chan-wook's upcoming vampire thriller Thirst.

As part of the deal, Focus will release the film in North America. CJ is handling Korean distribution and international sales.

The deal was announced by UPI studio president Christian Grass, Focus Features CEO James Schamus and CJ CEO Kim Joo-sung.

'Thirst is especially exciting for us, as it's the first time a major studio has co-produced with a South Korean entertainment company in this way,' said Grass.

Park said: 'I am happy to hear such good news while filming the movie. Films like Old Boy and Sympathy For Lady Vengeance got sold internationally after their domestic release, but in the case of Thirst, it is a first for a Korean film to get US studio investment and distribution in North America before its domestic release.'

Currently in production, Thirst stars Song Kang-ho (The Host) and Shin Ha-kyun (Sympathy For Mr Vengeance) in the story of a popular priest who volunteers to participate in a medical experiment to find a cure for a deadly disease. However, his physical and psychological transformations during the experiment have traumatic repercussions for his followers and friends.

The co-production is being overseen by Grass, Jason Resnick, senior vice president and general manager of worldwide acquisitions for Universal Pictures, and CJ executive vice president and head of international business Katherine Kim.