UK production company CougarFilms and BBC Films have struck a deal to acquire the film rights to Lynda LaPlante's TV series Widows from Walt Disney Studios.

Cougar will work with BBCFilms to develop and produce the feature film, which will also be titled Widows.The film will be intended for theatrical release.

ITV aired the six-part TVseries in the UK during 1983 and an American remake aired on ABC in 2000. Thestory follows four women, grieving the deaths of their criminal husbands, whodecide to stage a heist themselves.

Since founding Cougar withLa Plante in 2001, producer Sophie Balhetchet said she had been asked about thepossibility of bringing Widows to the big screen many times. "It'salways been at the back of our minds," she said.

The film version hasn't beenwritten yet, but Balhetchet said, "The way we want to do it is hard-edged,exciting, psychologically really rich, and still set in the UK. We're lookingfor an exciting screenwriter who can give it a great spin."

She expects the story tochange somewhat but to remain focused on the four strong female characters. "InBritain we have a tradition of a certain kind of gangster flick, and I thinkit's really interesting that Lynda was one of the first to come up with it fromthe point of view of these bereaved women," she told LaPlante is also the writer of TV shows including Prime Suspect.

LaPlante and Balhetchet willproduce for Cougar along with David Thompson of BBC Films. Balhetchet notedthat La Plante would work closely with whatever screenwriter is brought onboard. No director or cast is attached yet.

The deal to acquire therights to the project was brokered by Peter Benedek at UTA and Isabel Begg atBBC Films. Terms weren't disclosed.

Cougar and BBC previouslycollaborated on Ol Parker's Imagine Me & You, which is premieringFriday at the Toronto International Film Festival. Cougar's other currentprojects include a second feature directed by Ol Parker and Jean Lee, LaPlante's screenplay about the last woman hanged in Australia.