Relativity is straying from its Nicholas Sparks safety zone for its third adaptation of the author’s work. After scoring with a pair of successful Valentine’s week openings — and eventual grosses — for Safe Haven (2013) and Dear John (2010), Relativity will bow The Best Of Me on October 17, 2014. The second-chance tale of former high school sweethearts who find themselves reunited after 20 years apart will go up against Universal’s James Brown biopic Get On Up and Fox’s Romeo and Juliet-meets-Day of the Dead toon Book of Life that weekend. Best Of Me is directed by Michael Hoffman, who co-wrote the pic with J. Mills Goodloe and Will Fetters.
EXCLUSIVE: After spirited bidding from multiple studios, Fox 2000 is wrapping up a deal for The Longest Ride, the next novel by Safe Haven author Nicholas Sparks. I’m told the deal is worth $5 million upfront, which is consistent with what Sparks usually gets for his movie deals. Temple Hill’s Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen will produce with Sparks and Theresa Park. They were the producers on Safe Haven. The book went out when A Safe Haven was released last weekend, and it came down in the end to Elizabeth Gabler’s Fox 2000, Warner Bros and Relativity Media. While my brain is squarely in Oscar mode, by my count this is far and away the biggest book deal this year and for that matter in quite awhile.
EXCLUSIVE: Looks like Warner Bros is getting close to the altar on another romantic film based on a Nicholas Sparks bestseller. I’m told that Michael Hoffman is in talks to direct The Best Of Me, an adaptation of the Sparks bestseller. Will Fetters, who adapted the Sparks novel Lucky One, is being courted to do a rewrite. Denise DiNovi is producing with Sparks and Theresa Park is co-producer. Hoffman most recently helmed the Gambit remake that stars Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz.
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Warner Bros originally hired J. Mills Goodloe to write the script, after it acquired the novel long before it was published by Grand Central. In fact, the studio bought The Best Of Me last summer in a room where Sparks pitched his novel idea to Warner Bros executives, even before putting pen to paper. The novel is about two former small-town high school sweethearts from opposite sides of the tracks. Now middle-aged, they’ve taken wildly divergent paths. Neither has forgotten their first love affair, and when they return to their hometown for a funeral, they meet and confront the past and a possible future. Goodloe is beginning his adaptation immediately.
UTA TV literary agent Elise Henderson is leaving the agency for a job as head of the television division of Nicholas Sparks Productions. Sparks, who is a UTA client, and his publishing agent and creative partner Theresa Park launched …
Australian director Scott Hicks (Snow Falling On Cedars, Shine) tackles this romantic drama based a Nicholas Sparks novel, The Lucky One, about an Iraq war veteran who travels to North Carolina in search of the woman in a photo he thinks is a lucky charm that saved his life. Zac …
EXCLUSIVE: Nicholas Sparks is making his first foray into TV writing. The bestselling novelist, whose books have spawned several hit feature films, has sold an original story idea to ABC for a drama series that will be produced by ABC Studios and Twilight producer Temple Hill. The drama, titled The Watchers, tells the story of a fallen angel looking for his mortal love. Sparks teamed for the project with Temple Hill, which previously produced the film adaptation of Sparks’ novel Dear John and is now in pre-production on another Sparks feature adaptation, that of his 2010 novel Safe Haven. Sparks and Temple Hill then took the idea to ABC Studios, where Temple Hill has an overall deal. Kristin Hahn was brought in to co-write the script with Sparks and the pitch was taken to ABC, which bought it right away. Sparks is executive producing with Temple Hill’s Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey. Theresa Park, Sparks’ longtime publishing agent and president of his production company, is producing.
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has acquired The Best of Me, the next novel by Nicholas Sparks. No numbers were available, but I believe the deal is similar to the one that Relativity Media made to win an auction for Sparks’ Safe Haven (which just landed Lasse Hallstrom as director). That deal was in the vicinity of $2 million against $5 million, and Relativity Media had a nine-month window to develop a script.
The studio bought The Best of Me in a room where Sparks pitched his novel idea to Warner Bros executives. The main characters are former small-town high school sweethearts from opposite sides of the tracks. The story picks up when they are adults who broke up and took different paths. Neither has forgotten that first love affair, and they meet when they return to their hometown for a funeral. They confront the past and a possible future. The book will be published Oct. 11 by Grand Central.
Denise DiNovi will produce the film with Sparks, and the author’s longtime lit agent Theresa Park will be co-producer. DiNovi is producing with Kevin McCormick The Lucky One, which will star Zac Efron, and she also produced the Sparks’ adaptations A Walk to Remember and Message in a Bottle. Sparks has a remarkably high ratio of books turned into romantic films. Aside from the ones I’ve already mentioned here, his other title transfers are The Last Song, a novel he wrote to be a screen vehicle for Miley Cyrus; The Notebook; and Nights in Rodanthe.
EXCLUSIVE: Relativity Media is in talks with Lasse Hallstrom to direct its adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel Safe Haven. I’m told that a deal will likely happen quickly. It’s not surprising that Ryan Kavanaugh would turn to Hallstrom to helm the adaptation of a book that Relativity paid around $2 million against $5 million to acquire in a heated auction last summer. Hallstrom directed the adaptation of the Sparks novel Dear John, a film that Kavanaugh financed.
The move also re-teams Hallstrom with Temple Hill partners Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey, who produced Dear John, a film that was well received and grossed $110 million worldwide with Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried starring. Relativity Media acquired Safe Haven with a ticking clock — basically a nine-month window to develop the script, or the book would go back to Sparks and he’d keep the upfront payment. They got Dana Stevens to write a script, and they certainly met the deadline, as they are already looking at cast for a fall start date. Bowen and Godfrey are producing and so is Kavanaugh. In Safe Haven, a young North Carolina woman is determined to avoid forming personal ties until a series of events draws her into two reluctant relationships. As she begins to fall in love, she struggles with a dark secret that still haunts and terrifies her.
In a deal that is in the vicinity of $2 million against $5 million, Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media won the auction for the Nicholas Sparks novel Safe Haven. Temple Hill partners Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey will produce with Kavanaugh and Sparks, and Tucker Tooley exec producing. All of them teamed on the adaptation of the Sparks novel Dear John, the Relativity-financed pic that grossed $110 million worldwide with Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried starring. Sparks has become the closest thing the movie business has to a slam dunk, and that allowed UTA to make a rather sensational ask in a sluggish book-to-movie marketplace. What is most intriguing is the quick trigger on the deal, whose heft turned off some potential bidders. Buyers got a 9-month window to develop a script. If that date passes and a script isn’t ready, the rights return to Sparks and he keeps the $2 million, sources tell me.