Firth, Everett, Watson on board Ealing pic

Emily Watson, Colin Firth, Rupert Everett and comedian Russell Brand are set to star in “St. Trinian’s,” Ealing Studios’ new version of the classic British comedy franchise that spawned several popular movies in the 1950s and 1960s.

Ealing topper Barnaby Thompson, will make his helming debut, co-directing with his regular collaborator, Oliver Parker. Thompson and Parker will also share the producing credit.

“St. Trinian’s,” originally inspired by books and cartoons by Ronald Searle, centers on the madcap adventures of a group of unruly girls who attend the eponymous boarding school.

The latest revival is written by Piers Ashworth and Nick Moorcroft.

Watson will play the central teacher character (played in the original pics by Joyce Grenfell), while Everett will play the double cross-dressing role of the headmistress and her unscrupulous brother (originally Alistair Sim). Brand will play Flash Harry, the local small-time crook who helps the girls get into scrapes.

Cast also includes Caterina Murino (“Casino Royale”), Jodie Whittaker (“Venus”), Talulah Riley and Tamsin Egerton; Richard E. Grant and Stephen Fry do cameos.

Production is due to begin March 26, having delayed a week following the U.K. government’s March 2 tax clampdown, which sunk part of the financing from Ingenious Film Partners.

Entertainment Film Distributors is co-financing the film and taking U.K. rights, and Thompson is in the final stages of securing the remaining coin. Ealing’s own sales arm is handling foreign sales.

“The Belles of St. Trinian’s” started the franchise in 1954, followed by “Blue Murder at St. Trinian’s” in 1957, “The Pure Hell of St. Trinian’s” in 1960 and the “The Great St. Trinian’s Train Robbery” in 1966. The series was revived in 1980 with “The Wildcats of St. Trinian’s.” The latest movie is not a remake of any previous “St. Trinian’s” adventure but an attempt to create a 21st century version of the franchise.

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