Fox 2000 in playground with 'Wimpy Kid' books

Sees series as potential family franchise

Fox 2000 is bringing Jeff Kinney's best-selling "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" book series to the big screen as a live-action family film and potential franchise.

The studio purchased all rights to the five novels — composed of handwriting and animation — chronicling the daily indignities faced by middle school student Greg Heffley. Former Buena Vista president Nina Jacobson will produce the first feature, with more possibly to follow. Carla Hacken is overseeing the film's development for the studio.

Author-illustrator Kinney's first two books, last year's "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" and this year's "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules," both hit No. 1 on the New York Times children's best-seller list, with the first book staying on the list for 45 weeks. The author launched his underdog hero's story on in 2004, attracting more than 50 million visits from fans.

Fox 2000 young adult book scout Riley Ellis met with Kinney a year ago and brought in the project, helping make the rights deal with agent Sylvie Rabineau and attorney Keith Fleer. The studio is seeking a director and screenwriter.

The third book, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw," is due this year, with two more set to be written.

Gregg Goldstein reported from New York; Borys Kit reported from Los Angeles.