Lionsgate exercises feature rights on laffer

Lionsgate has tapped Kirk Jones to direct a feature version of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” as an ensemble romantic comedy.

The minimajor acquired feature rights to Heidi Murkoff’s bestseller from Phoenix Pictures early last year and signed Heather Hach — who was nine months pregnant at the time — to adapt from her pitch about the relationships of seven couples as they prepare for parenthood.

Shauna Cross (“Whip It”) had penned the final draft in which the focus is now on four interconnected couples, experiencing the thrills and surprises of having a baby.

Phoenix topper Mike Medavoy, Arnie Messer and David Thwaites are producing, with Doug McKay co-producing through Phoenix. Heidi Murkoff and Erik Murkoff will exec produce along with their literary manager, Alan Nevins of Renaissance Literary & Talent.

Lionsgate, which has worldwide rights to the film, announced Wednesday that Jones (“Waking Ned Devine,” “Nanny McPhee”) had come on board.

The book has sold 16 million copies and been on the New York Times Bestseller list for over 500 weeks. The 2010 announcement launching the feature had said the “Expecting” project was the first in an alliance formed among Phoenix, Renaissance and Jackson-Medavoy Entertainment.

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

Alli Shearmur and Jim Miller are overseeing the production for Lionsgate

Jones is represented by CAA and Casarotto, Ramsay & Associates. Hach is repped by WME and Anonymous Content.

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