Jean Reno andJames Franco will star in the epic wartime adventure Flyboys, which is being directed by Tony Billand will be produced by Electric Entertainment principal Dean Devlin and MarcFrydman.

Lions Gate Films International will handle worldwiderights excluding the US and Canada, which are being represented by ICM.

Principalphotography is due to begin in the UK on Apr 18 on the story of the firstAmerican fighter pilots known as the Lafayette Escadrille, who volunteered forthe French military before the US entered the First World War.

David Ward, PhilSears and Blake Evans wrote the screenplay; Ingenious Entertainment's DuncanReid and James Clayton will serve as executive producers along with David Brownand Phil Goldfarb.

Electric's MarcRoskin and Kearie Peak will co-produce, and Electric's Rachel Olschan isserving as associate producer.

"This is therare film experience where we were able to have our first choice for directorand leads," Devlin said in a statement. "They were drawn to this story, as wasI, for the elements of drama and action set against the compelling backdrop ofWorld War I.

"No-one has yetdone the ultimate aerial battle film with these kinds of aircraft. We're hopingto bring something to the screen that audiences have never seen before. Thismovie will have global commercial appeal and tremendous entertainment value fora broad audience."

Reno's creditsinclude Leon (knownas The Professionalin North America) and Ronin, among others, and he will next be seen in The Pink Panther and The Da Vinci Code.

Franco starredin the Spider-Manfranchise and his upcoming credits include the Naval Academy drama Annapolis and historical romance Tristan &Isolde.