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CANNES — Following Newmarket’s enormously successful domestic release of Icon’s “The Passion of the Christ,” the two companies have created an informal alliance to buy movies together for distribution in North America, the U.K. and Australia.

Pact is intended to give Newmarket greater clout to acquire U.S. rights in the face of competition from the specialized arms of the major studios, which often bid for all English-speaking territories.

For Icon, the arrangement provides reassurance that the films it buys for its distribution arms in Britain and Australia will also get a proper Stateside release from a first-class distrib.

Newmarket and Icon have yet to buy anything together, although sources said they made an unsuccessful joint bid for an unidentified pic just before Cannes.

There’s no formal deal between the two companies. The loose arrangement is entirely based on the relationship between execs on both sides following their profitable collaboration on “The Passion.”

Idea of cooperating on acquisitions grew out of the fact that Newmarket and Icon separately bought U.S. and Australian rights to the Charlize Theron pic “Monster.”