EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate won a multi-studio and streamer auction for the film rights to Judy Blume’s classic novel Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret. Essentially, Lionsgate has committed to a green light on a film with a budget in the $30 million range, with Kelly Fremon Craig directing her scripted adaptation and Gracie Films’ James L. Brooks producing. Those two teamed up on The Edge of Seventeen, a movie adaptation that very much pleased Blume, who for decades turned down offers to film a seminal book that has been considered a right of passage for young girls.
Julie Ansell, Richard Sakai, Amy Brooks, Fremon Craig, and Blume will join James L. Brooks as producers. Deadline revealed that Blume had granted rights and approved Craig and Brooks, after they visited her in Key West. Lionsgate has been all over it since the author first mused on social media that the time might be right for her to finally see a film made. Lionsgate made a blind green light commitment as far back as a year ago.
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A sixth grader who moves from the city to the suburbs, Margaret prays to God to watch over her and help her through her anxieties, including puberty and its changes to her body and her emotions. Blume’s frank, loving narrative has struck a chord with generations of readers, and the book was on Time magazine’s list of the top 100 works of fiction since 1923. Its legion of fans have also beaten back several attempts to ban it from libraries over the years.
“I knew when I met Kelly and Jim I was incredibly lucky to have them heading up Team Margaret,” Blume said in a statement. “With Lionsgate’s early and continued enthusiasm for the project we all feel Margaret has found the right home. After 50 years it’s about time!”
Beyond the swarms of young women who considered the book a north star, it specifically affected several key Lionsgate senior executives, who passionately pitched the project to Blume, Fremon Craig and Brooks and the filmmaking team. Lionsgate made a cross-company pitch for the project and transformed their conference room into an 11-year-old girl’s bedroom for their formal meeting with the filmmakers. In the room were personal memory boxes as well as pictures of key executives as 11-year-olds, including Erin Westerman, president of production, Marisa Liston, EVP of Global Earned Media and Communications, Jamie Kramer, EVP of Global Marketing and Strategy, and Lily Lasuzzo, SVP of Global Creative among others. Each recounted how the book helped them grow, get through the difficult years of puberty, form deeper connections with their mothers and families, and served as a blueprint that helped them transform their lives.
Said Lionsgate President of Production Erin Westerman: “This title was an anthem when we first read it as teens, and it remains timeless and relevant because nothing has captured the coming-of-age experience with the same authenticity, truth and respect. For that reason, Judy Blume is a beacon for women and girls. Kelly Fremon Craig is a filmmaker we have adored and chased for years, and James L Brooks is a hero to us all. Together, they delivered an adaptation that captures all the scope and potential of the title; the themes of identity, loneliness, confidence and kindness are urgent, ageless and more necessary today than ever before. We are honored they heard our passion and have chosen Lionsgate as their home. This will be the movie event of the year for women and girls. And you know what? Men will love it too!”
Said Craig: “I could not be more honored to bring Margaret to the screen alongside my two biggest heroes, Jim Brooks and Judy Blume, and the fiercely passionate team at Gracie Films. Lionsgate swept us away with their resounding passion for this book and what it has meant to generations, and I am thrilled to lock arms with Erin Westerman, Nathan Kahane, Joe Drake, and the rest of their exceptional team to bring this film to life.”
Fremon Craig was repped in the deal by UTA, Kaplan/Perrone and Hansen, Jacobson; Brooks and Blume were repped by WME. Dan Freedman is making the deal for Lionsgate, and the deal was overseen by Nathan Kahane, President of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group and Westerman. Meredith Wieck and Chelsea Kujawa are overseeing the project for Lionsgate with Westerman.
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