Studio acquires rights to bestseller from Phoenix Pictures

Lionsgate is coming on board “What To Expect When You’re Expecting,” acquiring feature rights to Heidi Murkoff’s bestseller from Phoenix Pictures and signing Heather Hach to adapt it as a romantic comedy.

Hach, who’s credits include “Freaky Friday” and “Legally Blonde: The Musical,” is nine months pregnant. She’s currently writing the screenplay based on her novel “Freaky Monday” for CBS Films.

Phoenix’s David Thwaites will produce alongside the company’s Mike Medavoy and Arnie Messer. Phoenix’s Doug McKay will co-produce and Heidi and Erik Murkoff will exec produce alongside Murkoff’s literary rep Alan Nevins of Renaissance Management, who brokered the deal with Phoenix.

Thursday’s joint announcement said the “Expecting” project is the first in a new alliance formed between Phoenix, Renaissance and Jackson-Medavoy Entertainment.

Hach’s pitch on “Expecting” had elicited offers from several rival studios. The story follows the relationships of seven couples as they experience the thrills, terrors, surprises, aches, and pains of preparing for parenthood.

“What to Expect When You’re Expecting” has been translated into over 40 languages. The series, which includes “What to Expect the First Year” and “The Toddler Years,” has sold over 40 million copies.

“I’m so happy to be working with Phoenix Pictures, Lionsgate and the impressively pregnant Heather to bring my baby to life,” Heidi Murkoff said. “I’m a proud mom all over again!”

Phoenix is currently in production with Fox Searchlight’s “Black Swan,” helmed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis and Vincent Cassell. The shingle produced Paramount’s “Shutter Island,” directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and set for release Feb. 19 after being pulled from an October release date.

Hach is repped by WME and Anonymous Content.

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