Leigh Francis, who created and starred as the character in TV shows Bo’ Selecta! and Keith Lemon’s World Tour, has co-written the script for the film along with Paul Angunawela, who will direct.
Lionsgate UK is producing its first feature comedy, based around UK TV character Keith Lemon.
Paul Angunawela will direct Keith Lemon: The Film, from a script he has co-written with Leigh Francis, who created the Keith Lemon character.
The feature version will follow Keith as he moves from Leeds to London in his quest to become a successful entrepreneur, just like his hero Richard Branson.
Verne Troyer is confirmed to star alongside Francis.
Shooting is due to begin on November 17 in Belfast, with funding from Northern Ireland Screen.
Mark Huffam, Simon Bosanquet and Aidan Elliott will produce for Belfast-based Generator Entertainment. Zygi Kamasa, CEO of Lionsgate UK will executive produce. Nick Manzi and Emma Berkofsky developed the film in house after and will also executive produce for Lionsgate UK.
Molinare have also put in financing.
Lionsgate is eyeing an August 2012 release around the same slot as this year’s box office smash The Inbetweeners to cater for the film’s largely teen audience.
It will be the second time Lionsgate UK has partnered with Francis, following Lionsgate Home Entertainment’s release last Christmas of Keith Lemon’s Fit!, a comedic DVD parody of the fitness video market, which sold over 100,000 units.
Zygi Kamasa, Lionsgate UK’s CEO, told Screen that the decision to make the feature came after the success of the DVD last year. “Keith Lemon’s show is one of the highest rated shows on ITV2 every week, he has a million followers on twitter. He has clearly got an audience.”
Kamasa said the film would be “in the Ali G world of slightly heightened reality.”
Lionsgate UK recently announced they are handling distribution and sales on Colin Firth starrer The Railway Man and exec producing Mike Newell’s Great Expectations which started shooting on 10 October. The company is also still in development on a feature version of The Professionals, which Kamasa said he hoped would shoot by the end of next summer. Cast and director are yet to be announced.
Lionsgate UK’s theatrical slate includes Lasse Hallström’s Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Ralph Fiennes’ directorial debut Coriolanus and David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method.
“We want to invest more and more into British films. We have 3 or 4 projects ongoing at the moment and Keith Lemon fitted in as something alternative but potentially very commercial,” added Kamasa.