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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Nicholas Sparks

'The Lucky One': Zac Efron romance unlucky with most critics

April 20, 2012 |  2:11 pm

The Lucky One
The new romance "The Lucky One," starring Zac Efron as a weary Marine and Taylor Schilling as a beautiful stranger, is the latest in a line of film adaptations of Nicholas Sparks' weepy novels. (In case you've forgotten, the list includes "Dear John," "The Last Song" and most famously "The Notebook.") As is often the case with Sparks' movies and their imitators (including "The Vow" earlier this year), critics agree that "The Lucky One" is a tear-jerker best left to hard-core romance fans.

In one of the more positive reviews, the Los Angeles Times' Betsy Sharkey calls "The Lucky One" a "sweet but not too syrupy romance" and "the best Sparks-inspired film to come along since 'The Notebook.' " It's certainly not perfect: "Without much tension, the film becomes more of an extended music video of Logan and Beth's [Efron and Schilling's characters] rocky road to love," Sharkey writes. But the film is "beautifully captured by director of photography Alar Kivilo," she says, while Efron is "in his wheelhouse," Schilling is "moving," and director Scott Hicks "keeps 'The Lucky One' from turning into complete mush."

The Washington Post's Ann Hornaday is less impressed and describes the film as a "tepid, inert enterprise." "The Lucky One," she continues, is "devoid of genuine tension, conflict or combustible chemistry between its two stars," and "just prettily sits there." So does Efron, for that matter: "The role of a stoic, expressionless philosopher-soldier requires that he tamp down his natural exuberance and physical grace, a regrettable misuse of his native talents." Invoking "The Notebook," Hornaday concludes that "'The Lucky One' tries hard to re-bottle that lightning, to no avail."

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Zac Efron's 'Lucky One' could unseat 'Hunger Games'

April 16, 2012 | 10:21 am

Zac Efron's "The Lucky One" could beat "The Hunger Games" at the box office next weekend. Unless "Think Like a Man, "the movie based on the Steve Harvey book, does it
Zac Efron has some news for "The Hunger Games": Your reign in first place is about to end.

But it could be Steve Harvey claiming the title as the new top dog.

Efron's "The Lucky One," a tear-jerker romance adapted from author Nicholas Sparks' novel of the same name, looks likely to claim the No. 1 spot at the multiplex this weekend, which would knock "The Hunger Games" from the top spot.

But if the Warner Bros. film can't close the deal, look for Harvey's comedy "Think Like a Man" to premiere in first place.

"The Hunger Games" has been the nation's most popular film four consecutive weeks, and has grossed more than $337 million in domestic theaters to date. It is thus far 2012's top release, far ahead of "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax," with $204.5 million so far.

If "The Lucky One" isn't lucky enough to unseat “The Hunger Games,” the honor may go to Screen Gems' "Think Like a Man." If the audience tracking surveys are accurate, each film could gross $20 million or more in its debut, which should be more than enough for the top spot. Last weekend, "The Hunger Games" grossed an estimated $21.5 million, but should fall to about $15 million next weekend.

"The Lucky One," in which Efron plays a soldier who appears to be protected by the photograph of a woman he doesn't know, is appealing to younger women, the tracking surveys suggest. Men will either not attend or only go at gunpoint.

"Think Like a Man," adapted from Harvey's bestselling book, "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man," is a relationship comedy starring Chris Brown, Kevin Hart and Regina Hall. Its core audience is older African American women, the surveys indicate, but it has broad support from younger black women and a good percentage of men.


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-- John Horn

Photo: Zac Efron in “The Lucky One.” Credit: Alan Markfield / Warner Bros.

Live chat with 'The Lucky One's' Nicholas Sparks on Oct. 13

October 7, 2011 |  6:30 am

Live chat with Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Sparks, whose book "The Lucky One" is getting the big-screen treatment in April, will be joining us for a live online chat on Thursday, Oct. 13, starting at 10 a.m. PDT.

Sparks is a popular and prolific author with more than a dozen novels to his name, the latest of which, "The Best of Me," hits shelves Oct. 11. His previous titles include "The Notebook," "A Walk to Remember," "Dear John" and "The Last Song." The upcoming adaptation of "The Lucky One," starring Zac Efron as a Marine trying to find a mystery woman who he believes was his good luck charm during the war in Iraq, is Sparks' seventh book to be made into a movie.

Warner Bros. has also bought film rights to "The Best of Me," a tear-inducing tale of former high school sweethearts who reunite 25 years later. Sparks is co-producing the movie with Denise DiNovi, who produced "The Lucky One," and filming is scheduled to start in 2012.

To schedule a reminder for the chat, just fill out the form below. And be sure to join us Thursday.


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— Noelene Clark

Photo: Nicholas Sparks in 2010. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times.

Nicholas Sparks has to be feeling lucky

February 1, 2010 |  6:47 pm

ChGet ready for more messages in more bottles.

The adaptation of Nicholas Sparks' tearjerker "Dear John" is already tracking well at the box office, with the tissue industry bracing for the attendant surge in demand. Now another Sparks-derived romantic drama could be making a leap forward.

Producers on the Sparks adaptation "The Lucky One," which has been percolating along nicely in development at Warner Bros., are closing in on a director. Scott Hicks, best known for the 1996 hit "Shine," is the front-runner to direct the picture, with the director and executives at  Warner Bros. scheduled to meet and come to their decisions shortly.

"Lucky One," which is produced by longtime Sparks collaborator Denise Di Novi, involves a Marine who, while on a tour of duty in Iraq, finds a photo of a mysterious woman. He stashes away the photo for good luck and then uncovers a group of secrets when he eventually seeks out the woman. The latest version of the script, written by Will Fetters (who wrote the upcoming Rob Pattinson romantic drama "Remember Me"), is said to be in very good shape, and the project is considered a priority for the studio.

There's no actor attached yet, though producers have previously had preliminary discussions with James Franco about the lead role.

If the movie reaches the screen, it could create a veritable Sparks bonanza -- three movies based on the author's work in a very short span.

"Dear John," the military-flavored romance starring Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried, premieres tonight in Hollywood before opening this weekend. (The movie, for those who haven't snuggled up with the book and a cup of cocoa, is about a U.S. soldier who meets an activist college student and has a long-term, at times long-distance, relationship with her.)

And in early April, Sparks could expand his core demographic when Disney releases "The Last Song" as a feature vehicle for Miley Cyrus. Sparks wrote "Song" initially as a screenplay with Cyrus in mind (he later adapted it into a novel), crafting a story of a teenage girl who reconnects with her estranged father over a music-filled summer.

Studios are wise to look to Sparks. Adaptations of the author's work may not be racking up Academy Awards, but he has proven a fan favorite -- and a reliable author to lean on for mid-budget romances. Each of the four movies based on his books ("Message in a Bottle," "A Walk to Remember," "The Notebook" and "Nights in Rodanthe") has earned at least $40 million domestically, while one ("The Notebook") doubled that number and earned $81 million. And Sparks has written at least one book every year since 1998, giving studios plenty of material to draw from.

As for Hicks, he's recently moved between more commercial comedies and artier films. Nominated for two Oscars for the piano-player drama "Shine," he most recently directed Clive Owen in the single-parent drama "The Boys Are Back," but before that mined relationship territory with "No Reservations," the restaurant-set romantic comedy starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart.

--Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried in "Dear John." Credit: Scott Garfield/Screen Gems


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