A novel approach to making blockbuster movies


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The Independent Culture

The Lucky One, starring Zac Efron and out next week, is not just another Hollywood romance, it's another Hollywood romance from author Nicholas Sparks.

For the uninitiated, Sparks is one of the most prodigious producers of romantic-drama fodder out there. His books have racked up £50m in sales worldwide, while his book-to-film ratio is similarly impressive: of 16 published novels, seven have been turned into films and a further two are in production.

Probably best known of all is 2004's The Notebook, where Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams won the hearts of millions, and the "Best Kiss" prize at the MTV Movie Awards. If you haven't seen one, you'll have probably seen one of the posters, all of which share soft tones, pastel hues and couples in tender embraces.

Far from the reclusive-author type, Sparks, 46, is as open and media-friendly as a fan could hope for. "He's 5ft 10in and weighs 185lb," reads his biography. "He attends church regularly and reads 125 books a year." Whether it's through his prodigious reading that he discovered his magic formula for success is unclear, but with the stars in his films as high profile as Kevin Costner (Message in a Bottle) or Richard Gere (Nights in Rodanthe), Sparks now works in the knowledge that he will likely sell the film rights before the book reaches bookshops. Maybe it's he who is really the lucky one...