NEW YORK -- Movie theaters in the next few weeks will be filled with stories about misbehaving pandas, heroic mutants, superheros with magic rings and a comedy of mistaken identity led by a man playing a woman. Typical summer fare, right? Well, not exactly when it comes to that comedy.

It was written by Oscar Wilde -- in the late 1890s.

The current production of the hit "The Importance of Being Earnest" will be available on movie screens across the world starting Thursday. "Earnest" is the latest Broadway show to be captured on high definition cameras and beamed far from Times Square.

The play -- led by Tony Award-nominated Brian Bedford as director and in the role of the fearsome Lady Bracknell -- will be available on hundreds of screens in 35 states, as well as across Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Mexico, competing with "Kung Fu Panda 2," "X-Men: First Class" and "Green Lantern" in the global market.

The effort follows in the pioneering digital footsteps of The Metropolitan Opera and London National Theatre's NT Live series, which concludes its second season on June 30 with a live transmission from London of Anton Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard" starring Zoe Wanamaker.

Recent high-profile stage shows that have been converted into a screen version include a live production of "Fela!" in London by way of NT Live and the Tony-winning best musical "Memphis," the first time a still-running Broadway musical was screened.

This month also will mark the screen debut of a limited show that ended earlier this spring -- The New York Philharmonic's production of Stephen Sondheim's "Company," which was staged at Lincoln Center in early April for just four sold-out performances. Twelve cameras captured the cast that included Craig Bierko, Stephen Colbert, Jon Cryer, Katie Finneran, Neil Patrick Harris, Christina Hendricks, Patti LuPone, Martha Plimpton and Anika Noni Rose. Lony Price was the director.

The edited movie theater version will appear in more than 50 markets June 15 in Canada and the U.S., including New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, St. Louis and Milwaukee for $18 a ticket, a fraction of what the original cost at the Philharmonic.