It’s one of Hollywood’s greatest mysteries: Why can’t filmmakers figure out how to translate Nicholas Sparks’ best-selling novels to the silver screen?
The author sells millions of copies of his various romance novels around the world. He has a reputation for being one of the most fan-friendly book-circuit participants working today, staying at individual signings in countless cities for hours until every person who bothered to show has walked away with a personal greeting and a signature.
Yet the film adaptations of his stories usually leave movie audiences unsatisfied.
The Notebook, released in 2004, remains his most successful adaptation, though it only earned $81 million domestically. Nights in Rodanthe made half of that, and it reunited Richard Gere with his steamy Unfaithful co-star Diane Lane. And The Last Song had the marketing power of Miley Cyrus in its corner, yet still only coaxed $62M out of ticket buyers. Do you know what The Hunger Games calls $62M? Tuesday.
Critics are equally unimpressed. The Notebook might have made money, but it boasts a meager 52% Fresh grade on Rotten Tomatoes. The Last Song has 19% Fresh, while Mandy Moore’s A Walk to Remember conjured a forgettable 27% Fresh.
This week, Zac Efron and Taylor Schilling try to reverse the trend with an adaptation of Sparks’ The Lucky One, a romance that currently has an 29% Fresh rating (with 31 reviews) on RT.
So while our Lucky One Sweepstakes contest continues (and be sure to click here to enter to win a Funjet Vacations Getaway to Hawaii), we polled the Fandango editorial staff for their favorite Sparks adaptation. And just to keep it interesting, we eliminated the easy answer – The Notebook – from the equation.
I went with Rodanthe, a decidedly grown-up romance that dealt with loneliness, regret and – yes – passion as it paired Gere and Lane in a North Carolina bed and breakfast during a dangerous storm. Is it sappy? Without question. But the leads have unquestionable chemistry, as well, and it was strong enough to power Rodanthe through a litany of tired clichés.
The draw of seeing adult actors also attracted Fandango Editor-In-Chief Chuck Walton, who said, “My pick would be Message in a Bottle. I’m not really a Nicholas Sparks movie fan. But I do like Kevin Costner and Robin Wright. And, if forced to sit through a Nicholas Sparks love story, no offense to Channing Tatum and Miley Cyrus, I’d prefer it to be one with adult movie stars.”
“I've never seen a Nicholas Sparks movie,” admits contributing editor Erik Davis. “I watch Adam Sandler movies to get my cry on.”
And Fandango Partner Relations Manager John Halecky got a little confused. “I really liked The Rock and Adaptation. Oh, wait. You meant Nicholas Sparks, not Cage! In that case, none of them!”
What about you? Clearly you must have seen – and hopefully enjoyed – a movie based on a Nicholas Sparks book. Maybe it will be The Lucky One? Let us know a few of your favorites below.