Cheaper by the Dozen is actually a remake of the 1950 movie of the same name, based on the real-life story of the Gilbreth family. Hunt’s script was a dramedy and revolved around the large family coping with the news that the patriarch had cancer. This darker plot lined up with the tone of the 1950 film, but was eventually turned down because 20th Century Fox wanted a “wacky, wacky family comedy,” as Schmidt phrased it.
Because Hunt didn’t want to write that type of story, she moved away from the project. But after Fox got Martin onboard, Hunt returned to play his wife.