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. True Believer is also in development. His deal was made by UTA and The Park Literary Group.