We were caught off guard by Mike Fleming's Deadline report that Kirk Jones (Nanny McPhee) as agreed to direct a big-screen adaptation of What To Expect When You're Expecting. Hollywood's track record with pregnancy guides is limited, so it's tough to know what to expect from this movie. And after browsing through the book on Amazon, we're not sure how sections like "Nine Months of Eating Well" and "Your Pregnancy Lifestyle" will translate to film.
Here's what we do know: What to Expect was first published in 1984 and has sold more than 16 million copies and, according to one of its co-author Heidi Murkoff, USA Today once reported it's read by 93 percent of women who read a pregancy guide. So it's got name recognition, at least. As for the movie project, Lionsgate bought the movie rights from Phoenix Pictures last year and hired Hillary Hach (who wrote the book for the Legally Blonde musical and the script of Freaky Friday) to write the screenplay. At the time, the press release promised a "wildly original romantic comedy [that] 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." Oh, and they are thinking sequels. Lionsgate president Alli Shearmur is quoted: "What To Expect When You're Expecting is a brand that knows no boundarie. ... We're excited about this film as the first in a potential franchise."
Fast forward to October when the studio brought in Shauna Cross (who wrote the Drew Barrymore-Ellen Page roller derby movie Whip It!) for a rewrite, and two couples were cut from the story. At the time of the news Deadline's commenters were not kind, dismissing it as "pablum for the Wal-Mart crowd" and with sarcasm: "Awesome news! What this country needs now are more sitcom-worn jokes about morning sickness, mood swings and wacky food cravings."
With Kirk Jones on board to direct, Lionsgate apparently has a plan; Fleming says they're out ot make a movie "in the vein of Love, Actually. But if Steven Spielberg can see a story in a View-Master, then maybe they have a funny idea for handling postpartum infection (p. 570).