A FORMER Blackburn businessman's latest film looks set to be a hit -- even before it has reached the cinema screens.

Winchester Entertainment, headed by former Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School pupil Gary Smith (pictured), has sold the rights to Heartbreakers across the world.

The film, starring Gene Hackman, Signourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt, tells the story of a mother and daughter team who work together to swindle rich men.

It will be initially released in the US in March, where it will be shown across 2,500 screens -- 1,000 more screens than originally expected, due to the positive response at preview stage in the US.

Gary, who is chief executive of the London-based firm, said : "I am delighted to be able to make this announcement of strong sales for Heartbreakers, even before the film has reached the cinema screens.

"We are encouraged by the response to the film at this preview stage and have high hopes for further sales at the American Film Market next month."

The film has also been sold to the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Australia and Italy. Rovers fan Gary, whose parents, Ray and Sylvia, live in Ramsgreave Drive, Blackburn, is a former accountant in the town.

He founded Winchester about seven years ago in an attempt to compete with the successful US studios. Winchester is now worth £80million, of which Gary owns about five per cent.