RTL-owned production powerhouse UFA Cinema is heading for the high seas with a planned 3D pirate franchise based on a new book series by writer-filmmaker Joachim Masannek.German-lingo “Honky Tonk Pirates” follows teens Will and his best friend as they set off in search of a mysterious treasure in a race against a group of motley buccaneers, including the dastardly Black Soul Whistle and the lovely pirate princess Honky Tonk Hannah. Masannek, who wrote and directed Disney’s hugely successful, five-pic Teutonic tyke franchise “The Wild Soccer Bunch,” will write and direct the films based on his upcoming book series. Random House — like RTL, a subsidiary of German media giant Bertelsmann — is publishing the first two volumes of the “Honky Tonk Pirates” series in November. The first film installment is set to shoot at the end of 2011. Universal Pictures Intl. Germany has boarded the project for bigscreen and home entertainment distribution in German-speaking territories. “Who didn’t ever want to be a great pirate or a clever princess? Together with Joachim Masannek, we want to fulfill this dream that’s shared by millions,” said UFA Cinema topper Thomas Peter Friedl. “I don’t know anyone in Germany who can bring their audience into a story so authentically, modernly and entertainingly like Joachim,” said Friedl, adding that the company was setting the cornerstone for an international book and film franchise.