According to The Hollywood Reporter, in the first big North American sale at Cannes this year, Universal Pictures has picked up distribution rights to director Brian De Palma's $60 million 1940s crime thriller The Black Dahlia, starring Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johansson, Aaron Eckhart and Hilary Swank.

Universal paid between $10 million-$15 million, according to sources. After visiting the Bulgaria set en route to Cannes, Universal vice chairman Marc Shmuger became convinced that the film "was vintage De Palma material like 'The Untouchables,' " he said. "I was wowed by everything I saw. It's a rare opportunity to find a project with such great talent and a masterful story, self-financed and available.

The director, the cast, the key departments that they put together are extraordinary." Based on the 1987 James Ellroy murder mystery, "Black Dahlia" stars Hartnett and Eckhart as two boxers-turned-cops who become obsessed with finding the brutal killer of ingenue Elizabeth Short, aka "Black Dahlia."