Spanish distributor-exhibitor Lauren Films is preparing a Roman-era Monty Python-esque comedy, Lisistrata, which will mark its return to production after a decade-long hiatus.

The film is scheduled to shoot in early 2001 under director Francesc Bellmunt (Thanks For The Tip). Lauren chief Antonio Llorens said he hopes to tap co-producers and acting talent from France, Italy and/or Germany for the $2.2m Spanish-language film inspired by comedian Ralf Koenig. Lauren's new production division, A. Llorens PC, and Barcelona-based Fair Play will produce.

Llorens announced his return to TV and feature film production nearly a year ago with a mixed English and Spanish-language four-picture slate. Lisistrata is a new addition to the slate and has been pushed forward for production first.

The production plans form the final building block in Llorens' shift toward vertical integration. Lauren Films is Spain's leading locally-owned distributor. Thanks to an output agreement with Miramax, the company cornered 10.5% of the market in the first five months of 2000, nearly double the share of its nearest competitor, Tri Pictures.

Llorens is also expanding his exhibition chain, Lauren Cinemas, which - through a new joint venture with locals Cines Abaco and Cinebox - now forms part of Spain's largest chain at more than 235 screens.

Llorens left production over 10 years ago. He co-produced 17 films, including Pedro Almodovar's 1988 hit Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown.