The author of 17 fiction books has had eight of his romance novels adapted for the big screen. And now he’ll add a ninth. Scheduled for release in October 2014 is The Best of Me, starring James Mardsen and Michelle Monaghan. Marsden was given the role after Paul Walker, who was originally cast, tragically passed away. The film follows a pair of former high school sweethearts who see each other again for the first time in years after they both return home for a visit.
Sparks talked about his blockbuster adaptations: “They’ve been successful at the box office, and I think they’ve been faithful to the novels. I couldn’t be any happier.” Rather than just curling up with The Best of Me novel this Valentine’s Day, though, we recommend taking in some of his classic films. Whether you’re looking for a tear-jerker, a happy ending or a love story for the ages (or potentially all three!), we’ve got you covered.
Below we’ve listed all of Sparks books turned films and what they’re about. Watch one, or watch them all this Valentine’s Day (hey, we won’t judge!)
8 A Walk to Remember –$47 Million
Named one of US Weekly’s most romantic films of all time, this movie features a coming of age story between Landon (Shane West) and Jamie (Mandy Moore). Roger Ebert described the pair’s acting performance as "quietly convincing".
There’s a lot to love about this film including some of its differences from the book. The movie emphasizes the romance between the young couple and downplays Jamie’s father issues. It also puts a modern twist on things by setting it in the current day rather than the 1950s. If you’re a teenager looking for a story to connect with this Valentine’s Day, then this should be the film you reach for.
Despite not being a huge box office success in 2002, it’s meager take-in was offset by it’s low budget of just $11 million. The movie also had a well-selling soundtrack featuring songs by Moore.
7 Nights in Rodanthe – $84 Million
Take a seat for another Richard Gere/Diane Lane movie – but this time you’ll want to have tissues handy. The pair, who already starred opposite each other in Unfaithful and The Cotton Club, came together in 2008 for this romantic drama. The feature flick follows Adrienne (Lane) as she sorts out her love life, which suddenly takes a surprisingly turn when she meets Paul (Gere). The movie also casts James Franco, if you’re looking for even more eye candy!
If you really fall for the film, you can visit the Serendipity beach house and possibly spark your own love affair. Check in at the inn this Valentine’s for just $1,900 for one week; it goes up to almost $4,000 in the peak summer months.
Nights in Rodanthe was Warner Brothers’ second highest-grossing movie that year.
6 The Last song – $89 Million
Unlike with some of Sparks’ other films, he wrote the screenplay before he wrote the novel. He was approached to first write the screenplay, and then the book by Disney and Offspring Entertainment. Miley Cyrus, who’d been finished with Hannah Montana, had expressed an interest in staring in a movie similar to A Walk to Remember. Sparks had yet to do a coming of age film, so he agreed to take on the job after Cyrus agreed to the role.
Cyrus, who performs in the film, showed undeniable chemistry with her co-star, Hemsworth. The film is about Ronnie (Cyrus), a malcontent teenage who visits her estranged dad and stumbles into a summer romance with a local named Will (Hemsworth).
The Last Song came in first at the box office on opening weekend of March 31, 2010, taking in $36 million.
5 Safe Haven – $96 Million
The last Sparks adaptation to hit the big screen was Safe Haven, starring Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel, in 2013. This Valentine’s day release has an air of mystery and the supernatural that isn’t usually present in these films. (We don’t mean Twilight-vampire/werewolf supernatural though, so if you’re looking for more Robert Pattinson/Kristen Stewart type love you may not find it here.)
This movie turned up the heat. Hough said she was so nervous about filming the love scene with the hunky actor. Duhamel charmed Hough’s then-boyfriend Ryan Seacrest by chatting with him about the scenes before shooting. Hough joked, “should I call Fergie?” But despite any acting jitters, Hough and Duhamel displayed solid chemistry on screen.
4 The Lucky One –$99 Million
Before taking to the small screen in the popular Netflix show, Orange is the New Black, Taylor Schilling took the big screen opposite Zac Efron in The Lucky One. For Efron, this was one of his breakthrough adult roles since High School Musical. Efron was really excited to be cast, calling it “an honor to be involved in the Nicholas Sparks’ legacy of movies about love”.
In an unlikely love story, Logan (Efron), a US Marine, sees a picture of an unknown woman, later known to be Beth (Schilling). Logan considers her “his guardian angel” as with the photo in hand, he makes it through several unlucky events. It’s a film that’s sure to move you as you follow Logan and Beth’s journey. The dancing scene between the two is a moment you’ll really be rooting for their love affair to grow.
Although it came in second on opening weekend in 2012, it still sits at number four on this list because it took in $99 million overall.
3 Dear John – $114 Million
One of the best opening weekend debut by any Nicholas Sparks film was from Dear John. It even knocked off the ever-popular Avatar after seven weeks at the top when it launched close to Valentine’s Day of 2010.
The long distance romance between John and Savannah (played by the extremely handsome Channing Tatum and blonde beauty Amanda Seyfried) becomes strained over time. Reminiscent of the love letters between Noah and Allie in The Notebook, this film knows how to tug at every heartstring. It’s worth popping this DVD in this Valentine’s Day as it comes with an alternate ending – one that’s more true to the book – which means that you get to decide how things work out for the two in this love story.
2 The Notebook – $115 Million
From the big screen to real life, The Notebook shared with the world a timeless love story with a tearful ending. Allie and Noah first stole our hearts on the big screen in 2004. We won’t give any spoilers away on the film – though we’re sure most of you have seen it since when it comes to highest-grossing romantic dramas, it’s 12th all time.
However in real life, stars Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams had their own classic love-hate relationship for a bit. Seems they bickered and “inspired each other in the worst way” on set, said Gosling. However, by 2005, they’d started up a relationship that made fans of this film very happy. Though they split in 2007, Gosling acknowledged that McAdams was “one of the great loves of [his] life”. You’ll definitely want to break out the tissues for this one!
1 Message in a Bottle – $118 Million
Many might be surprised to find that The Notebook doesn’t top this list. Instead, it’s the one that started it all. The first Sparks book turned filmed earned $118 million dollars at the box office. It didn’t hurt that it was released on February 12, 1999, just two days before Valentine’s, and starred everyone’s favorite princess Robin Wright and the handsome Kevin Costner.
This film had the biggest budget at $80 million, no doubt because of its celebrity cast who were in the prime of their careers. Costner was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance in Tin Cup shortly before signing on to this movie. Wright had also been nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Golden Globe for a couple of films in the five years leading up to Message in a Bottle, including Forest Gump which starred Tom Hanks.
Message in a Bottle took in $16.7 million on its opening Valentine’s Day weekend. This epic love story follows Theresa (played by Wright), a Chicago Tribune reporter, who finds a heart-breaking love letter in a bottle on the beach. In an effort to know more, she seeks out its author, Garrett (played by Costner), and slowly finds herself falling in too deep.
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