Miramax Films is planning a major film franchise set in notorious German prisoner-of-war fortress Colditz, originally seen on film in Guy Hamilton's gung-ho 1954 classic. The studio has acquired remake rights to that film as well as exclusive movie rights to the book on which it was based by John Patrick Reid and two follow-up books Colditz: The Latter Days and Colditz: The Full Story.

Rafael Yglesias, whose credits include Fearless and Death And The Maiden, is writing the screenplay of the new film.

Miramax bought movie rights from the producer of the original film Ivan Foxwell and StudioCanal which co-owned the rights. The book rights were bought from Reid's five children. Certain merchandising and TV rights related to the property were acquired from Brian Degas.

The project has already stirred up controversy from British war veterans anxious Miramax would cast the film with Americans - when no PoWs were imprisoned in Colditz. "I have great respect for the British, French and Polish heroes of Colditz," said Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of Miramax. "This is the perfect opportunity for Miramax to share an important World War II story with today's movie audience."

The film will portray the lives of allied PoW's who plan various escapes from the castle. The original featured a host of British actors - John Mills, Eric Portman, Bryan Forbes, Ian Carmichael and Lionel Jeffries - but no casting is yet in place on the new film. Miramax executives Michelle Raimo and Jennifer Wachtell will oversee the project reporting to Meryl Poster, Miramax's co-president of production.

Meanswhile, Miramax has acquired all domestic ancillary rights to The Proposal, a thriller starrring Jennifer Esposito and Nick Moran, from Front Street Productions and Curb Entertainment.