Lionsgate has snapped up the rights to Jessica Knoll’s first novel Luckiest Girl Alive, which Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea will produce under their Pacific Standard Films banner. The Simon & Schuster tome will be published May 12.
Luckiest Girl Alive centers on Ani FaNelli, a 28-year-old New Yorker who appears to have it all: a sought-after position at a women’s magazine, a killer wardrobe and a dream wedding with her handsome fiancé on the horizon. But behind Ani’s veneer of perfection lies a dark trauma from her past, which resurfaces to unravel her meticulously crafted life.
Knoll has been a senior editor at Cosmopolitan and articles editor at Self. Simon & Schuster’s Sarah Knight, who acquired and edited Luckiest Girl Alive, also acquired Gillian Flynn’s global best-seller Gone Girl and edited her best-seller Dark Places while at Random House. Papandrea served as EP and Witherspoon produced Gone Girl, which was a huge fall hit for 20th Century Fox and became director David Fincher’s highest-grossing film with $167.8M at the domestic box office and $368M worldwide. Pacific Standard Films also was behind the feature adaptation of the best-selling memoir Wild, which earned $52.4M at the global B.O. to date and earned Witherspoon a Best Actress Oscar nomination for the role of fearless hiker Cheryl Strayed and a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nom for Laura Dern, who played Cheryl’s mother.
“This is one of those rare books that come along every so often that you simply cannot put down,” Lionsgate Motion Picture Group President Erik Feig said in a statement about Luckiest Girl Alive.
“Luckiest Girl Alive is the kind of book that grabs you and doesn’t let go,” added Witherspoon. “The hero of the book is a wily, intelligent, complex narrator. This character and the thrilling narrative that she drives are exactly the kind of story our company, Pacific Standard Films, wants to produce.”
VP Production Jeyun Choi Munford and Creative Exec Nirokhi Raychaudhuri is overseeing the project on behalf of Lionsgate. The deal was negotiated by CAA on behalf of Knoll, the novel and the producers. Paradigm reps Knoll.
Last month, Fox 2000 and Pacific Standard won the book rights auction to Gayle Tzemach Lemmon’s book Ashley’s War: The Untold Story Of A Team of Women Soldiers On The Special Ops Battlefield. It follows the creation of a 2010 pilot program by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command that allowed elite female soldiers on the battlefield with Green Berets and Army Rangers in Afghanistan. The unit, CST-2, included 1st Lieutenant Ashley White, who would become the first CST member killed in action.