International distribution giant UIP has picked up Spanish theatrical rights to The Big Martian (El Gran Marciano), a hoax digital feature starring the (unwitting) cast of the Spanish version of Big Brother.

UIP acquired the rights from start-up production outfit Zebra Produccciones, which shot Martian almost entirely without the knowledge of the protagonists. Director Antonio Hernandez and producer Antonio Saura managed to catch their reactions to unlikely spoof events including a spaceship landing.

The $2.1m picture is tentatively scheduled for a February 16 release. The film-makers are also expected to secure interactive spin-offs for TV and the internet, having shot more than 300 hours of footage in top secret over 18 weeks.

Zebra has backing from Jose Velasco, chief executive officer of Zeppelin, the heavyweight TV producer which is already in the Big Brother spin-off game: the company this week launches 24-hour pay-TV channel Big Brother Universe.

Managed in Spain by Gualberto Bana, UIP has recently released local titles including The Back Of The World (La Espalda Del Mundo) and Pasta Pasta (Pasate A La Pasta). The distributor has a physical distribution pact with Barcelona-based Planeta 2010.