Pic stars Biel, Firth, Scott Thomas

LONDON — Australian director Stephan Elliott has started shooting a movie version of Noel Coward’s witty social comedy “Easy Virtue,” starring Jessica Biel, Colin Firth and Kristin Scott Thomas.

The movie is an Ealing Studios production, financed by Endgame Entertainment, Prescience and the BBC. Odyssey Entertainment is handling international sales, with Ealing itself handling the North American deal.

Coward’s 1924 play is the story of a young Englishman who falls foul of his parents when he impetuously marries a glamorous American divorcee in the South of France. His mother takes an instant dislike to her new daughter-in-law, and a battle of wits ensues.

Ben Barnes, who plays Prince Caspian in the forthcoming Narnia sequel for Disney, takes the role of the young man.

Kris Marshall, Katherine Parkinson and Kimberley Nixon also star in the pic, which is written by Elliott and Sheridan Jobbins. Producers are Barnaby Thompson, Joseph Abrams and James D. Stern.

Elliott said, “With a great cast of characters and beautiful costumes, sets, cinematography and music, our aim is to create a totally modern movie, breathing life into a classic genre for a new audience.”

Elliott is best known for “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.” “Easy Virtue” will be his first film since “Eye of the Beholder” 10 years ago.

“Easy Virtue” was previously made into a silent movie by Alfred Hitchcock in 1928 — produced by Michael Balcon, who went on to found Ealing Studios.

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