Universal Pictures has acquired North American rights to Japanese thriller Midnight Eagle, which is produced by a production consortium headed by Universal Pictures Japan.

Co-producer, distributor and world sales agent Shochiku made the announcement following the film's world premiere in Los Angeles on October 2 at Universal Studios.

Teruki Matsumoto, managing director of Shochiku's Motion Picture Operations, commented on the acquisition: 'We're truly excited to be working with Universal Pictures, not only for the first ever co-production, which has already been a great experience, but now also for the US release of the film.'

Midnight Eagle is directed by Izuru Narushima and stars Takao Osawa (Crying Out Love, In The Center Of The World), Yuko Takeuchi and Hiroshi Tamaki. The story follows a nature photographer (Osawa) who finds a top-secret American nuclear weapon payload in the Northern Alps of Japan and tries to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.

The film is an adaptation of Tetsuo Takashima's novel of the same title. A production consortium was formed by Universal Pictures Japan (UPJ), distributor Shochiku and publisher Bungei Shunju to finance the $10m thriller, which was produced with the cooperation of Japan 's Defense Agency and the Ground/Air Self-Defense Force.

While UPJ was previously involved with TBS hit Dororo (also later acquired by Universal in the US) Midnight Eagle marks the first production with UPJ leading the consortium and the first Japanese film to feature the studio's famed rotating globe logo. The LA premiere was part of a $865,000 (Y100m) publicity campaign by Shochiku.

Shochiku releases Midnight Eagle domestically on November 23, pushed up from an original December release.