EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate has acquired North American and UK distribution rights to The Choice, an adaptation of the 2007 Nicholas Sparks novel that has a script by Bryan Sipe, with Sparks, Theresa Park and Peter Safran producing. Production begins in the fall. The deal, which began percolating during the Cannes Film Festival market, is similar in construct to the deal that Paramount made for Story Of Your Life, and the $12 million deal The Weinstein Company made on The Lion. This is for less money, but Lionsgate basically has bought a fully developed film. It is the first time that Sparks has gone this route; he usually auctions his new fiction and gets millions in guaranteed fees. He wanted instead to incubate the project before shopping it, and take part as an investor in the film.
The Choice tells the story of a long love affair that begins when Travis Parker and Gabby Holland first met as neighbors in a small coastal town and end up pursuing a relationship that neither could have foreseen. It spans a decade and traces the evolution of a love affair that is ultimately tested by life’s most defining events. Sparks’ The Best Of Me and The Longest Ride are currently in production. This is Lionsgate’s first project with the author, who with Park formed Nicholas Sparks Productions and recently acquired rights to make a movie on the life of Chicago Bears running back Gale Sayers.
Sipe most recently scripted Demolition, the Jean-Marc Vallée directed feature that has Jake Gyllenhaal negotiating to star. He is represented by UTA, Circle of Confusion and Morris Yorn Barnes. UTA reps Sparks, and brokered the deal with Lionsgate’s acquisitions and co-productions president Jason Constantine, and Eda Kowan and Wendy Jaffe.