SANTA MONICA, Calif., Jan. 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- LIONSGATE® (NYSE: LGF), the leading next generation studio, announced today that it has acquired from Phoenix Pictures worldwide rights to the screen adaptation of the bestselling book "What To Expect When You're Expecting," by Heidi Murkoff. Heather Hach (FREAKY FRIDAY, LEGALLY BLONDE: THE MUSICAL) will write the adapted screenplay, based on her pitch. Hach, who is nine months pregnant, was brought the book by Phoenix's David Thwaites, who will produce alongside the company's Mike Medavoy and Arnie Messer; Phoenix's Doug McKay will co-produce. The announcement was jointly made today by Joe Drake, Lionsgate Co-Chief Operating Officer and Motion Picture Group President, and Alli Shearmur, Lionsgate President of Motion Picture Production.
Shearmur and Lionsgate Senior Vice President of Motion Picture Production Wolfgang Hammer will oversee the project for the studio. Heidi and Erik Murkoff will executive produce alongside Murkoff's literary representative, Alan Nevins of Renaissance Management, who brokered the deal with Phoenix. The project marks the first in the new alliance formed between Phoenix, Renaissance and Jackson-Medavoy Entertainment.
"What to Expect When You're Expecting" was named one of the 25 most influential books of the last 25 years by USA Today. Read by 93% of expectant mothers and considered the pregnancy bible, it has sold over 20 million copies worldwide. It has been translated into over 40 languages and has remained on the New York Times bestseller list for over 440 weeks. The series, which includes "What to Expect the First Year" and "The Toddler Years," among others, has sold over 40 million copies.
"'What To Expect When You're Expecting' is a brand that knows no boundaries, and millions of readers can attest to the warmth, wisdom and humor of its voice," said Shearmur. "We're excited about this film as the first in a potential franchise with our friends at Phoenix Pictures, and working with Heather Hach positions us for a great start. Heather brings to the table very clever ideas, not to mention a terrific track record of creating comedies that are instant classics."
Heidi Murkoff said, "If there's one experience in life that's universally shared, it's pregnancy -- the joy, the excitement, the trepidation, the humor, the heartburn. I'm so happy to be working with Phoenix Pictures, Lionsgate and the impressively pregnant Heather to bring my baby to life. I'm a proud mom all over again!"
Medavoy, Messer and Thwaites said, "We feel Heidi's book provides the perfect launching point to tell a funny and poignant story and start a wonderful franchise using this iconic and beloved brand. Heather has crafted a great tale, full of rich characters, and we are all delighted to be working with Joe, Alli and Wolfgang on the film."
The deal was negotiated for Lionsgate by Robert Melnik, Lionsgate Executive Vice President, Business & Legal Affairs, and Hammer; by Cliff Roberts and Adriana Alberghetti at WME, Alex Goldstone at Anonymous Content and attorney Warren Dern of Sloane, Offer, Weber and Dern, on behalf of Hach; and by Rochel Blachman, Phoenix Pictures Executive Vice President, Business Affairs, and producer Messer, on behalf of Phoenix Pictures.
Hach is currently writing the screenplay based on her novel "Freaky Monday" for CBS Films.
Phoenix is currently in production with Fox Searchlight's Darren Aronofsky-directed BLACK SWAN, starring Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis and Vincent Cassell. In addition, they have Paramount's SHUTTER ISLAND, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, being released on February 19 and Mikael Hafstrom's SHANGHAI for The Weinstein Company, to be released later this year.
SYNOPSIS – WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU'RE EXPECTING
Based on the best-selling book, this wildly original romantic comedy follows the relationships of seven couples as they experience the thrills, terrors, surprises, aches, and pains of preparing to embark on life's biggest journey: parenthood.
Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF) is the leading next generation studio with a strong and diversified presence in the production and distribution of motion pictures, television programming, home entertainment, family entertainment, video-on-demand and digitally delivered content. The Company has built a strong television presence in production of prime time cable and broadcast network series, distribution and syndication of programming through Debmar-Mercury and an array of channel platform assets. Lionsgate currently has nearly 20 shows on 10 different networks spanning its prime time production, distribution and syndication businesses, including such critically-acclaimed hits as "Mad Men," "Weeds" and "Nurse Jackie," along with new series such as "Blue Mountain State" and the syndication successes "Tyler Perry's House Of Payne," its spinoff "Meet The Browns" and "The Wendy Williams Show." Its feature film business has generated more than $400 million at the North American box office in the past year, including the recent critically-acclaimed hit PRECIOUS, which has garnered $45 million at the North American box office and earned three Golden Globe nominations, and BROTHERS, which earned two Golden Globe nods. The Company's home entertainment business has grown to more than 7% market share and is an industry leader in box office-to-DVD revenue conversion rate. Lionsgate handles a prestigious and prolific library of approximately 12,000 motion picture and television titles that is an important source of recurring revenue and serves as the foundation for the growth of the Company's core businesses. The Lionsgate brand remains synonymous with original, daring, quality entertainment in markets around the world.