Warner Independent Pictures (WiP)has picked up North American rights to Chen Kaige's The Promise ahead of its Europeanpremiere at Berlin.

WiP plans a May release on theepic fantasy, which last December became the third biggest grossing releaseever in mainland China behind Titanicand Hero.

The picture had originally been acquired for North America by The Weinstein Co (TWC) at Canneslast year, but in December, the Weinsteins returneddistribution rights to producers Moonstone Entertainment and China Film Groupafter a difference of opinion over awards strategy.

Now Harvey'sformer Miramax lieutenant Mark Gill, who heads up WiP,has the spoils. It is understood WiP will release ashorter, 102-minute 'Western' cut. The Asian cut runs to 121 minutes.

Hiroyuki Sanada, Jang Dong-Gun,Cecilia Cheung, Nicholas Tse, Liu Ye and Chen Hongstar in the story of a general and his loyal slave who fall in love with aprincess, who is pursued by a vengeful duke.

Chen Hong, Han San Ping, EtchieStroh and Moonstone Entertainment produced the Beijing21st Century ShengKai Ltd and China Film Group Corppicture.