A production deal signed this week signals that The Next Big Thing, a feature written by and to star Magda Szubanski, is likely to be Australia's April Films' first production.

The private owners of the Sydney-based company have put $1.7m (A$3m) of their own money into project development since establishing April in 1999 and have a first look deal with Universal Pictures.

Szubanski (pictured) played Mrs Hoggett in Babe and a cantankerous rancher with a crocodile problem in the high-profile soon-to-be-released MGM picture Collision Course. In Australia she is also revered as a writer/producer/performer of television comedy, first in sketch comedy and then in telemovies and series.

She describes the film as a "a fat girl's revenge". It is a high concept retelling of the Pygmallion story in which a jaded fashion designer bets that he can transform a dowdy overweight woman into the new IT girl. When he succeeds it ignites the interest of the worldwide media and changes society to such an extent that shops no longer stock any clothes that are smaller than size 16.

April consults with Universal on a weekly basis on the eight features it has in development but this project is unusual in that it came to April finished, albeit with input from April Films chief executive Philippa Bateman. Garry Charny, executive chair of parent company April Entertainment, is confident it will be financed quickly but would be delighted if Universal signs on for the project.