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Ealing goes Wilde

Old U.K. banner resurrected in 'Earnest'

LONDON — Oliver Parker’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” has become the first film since 1957 to shoot under the legendary Ealing Studios banner.

The $15 million project, produced by Fragile Films, is being co-financed by Ealing with Newmarket Capital, the Film Council and Grosvenor Park.

Miramax Films will distribute the pic in all English-speaking territories, including the U.S. and the U.K.

Good Machine Intl. is handling foreign sales in association with Fragile’s own fledgling distribution arm. Pic is produced by Barnaby Thompson for Fragile, part of the consortium that bought Ealing Studios last year.

Shooting started April 23 in London. Rupert Everett, Judi Dench, Colin Firth, Reese Witherspoon and Frances O’Connor star in Parker’s adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s classic 19th century comedy of mistaken identity among the English upper classes.

The film is billed as an Ealing presentation. That banner has not been used since Michael Balcon ran the studio in the 1940s and 1950s, turning out classic English comedies such as “Passport to Pimlico” and “Kind Hearts and Coronets.”

The team of Parker, Fragile and Everett previously united for Wilde’s “An Ideal Husband,” which Miramax also released in North America.

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