With eleven of his novels adapted into movies, American novelist and screenwriter Nicholas Sparks, among all authors, has the most number of his novels being adapted into the silver screen. Out of twenty-one novels and two non-fiction books, almost all of his works include romance stories. Nicholas Sparks has such a beautiful way of making his words touch your heart, and the movies that are based on his novels portray it perfectly. Movies based on Nicholas Sparks’ novels have always been romance fans’ favorite. Fifteen of Nicholas Sparks’ novels have been at number one of New York Times Best Sellers, including “The Notebook.” Also, all of his books have been international and New Tork Times bestsellers as well.
Nicholas Sparks says himself that romance novels are “fantastical” and “trite,” while love stories are “realistic.” His use of realism in every story seems to catch the readers’ attention. Maybe his works are at the top of the romance genre because of his flexible and liberal writing. He describes romance in such an imaginative and engaging way, and the varying themes only act as the cherry on top. Just his name on the author’s column would mean that you should be ready for a bittersweet story with an emotional climax. One of the best things I love about movies based on Nicholas Sparks’ novels, apart from the stories, is its amazing soundtrack. If the story can’t bring you to your tears, I’m sure the music would do the trick.
Nicholas Sparks published his first novel, “The Notebook,” in 1993. However, the first Nicholas Sparks’ novel adapted into a movie was “Message in a Bottle” in 1999. Message in a Bottle novel was published on 1 April 1998, and an adaptation was announced shortly after the publication. Ever since then, Hollywood witnessed some tear-jerking adaptations of Nicholas Sparks’ novels that became internationally popular. Here, we will discuss the ranking of all movies based on Nicholas Sparks’ novels. So, prepare a box of tissues and start watching these movies.
11. Nights in Rodanthe (2008):
Director: George C. Wolfe
Screenplay: Ann Peacock, John Romano
Cast: Diane Lane, Richard Gere, Christopher Meloni, Viola Davis
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, this movie was the third screen collaboration of Richard Gere and Diane Lane. The movie was filmed in a small seaside village of Rodanthe and North Topsail Beach, North California. The tragic romance movie did fairly at the box office internationally. Nights in Rodanthe is different from regular teenage romance movies. It is a story about two broken people who lived half their lives and dealt with different problems. They eventually heal themselves as they find solace in each other’s presence.
After her husband, Jack Willis, left her for another woman, Adrienne Willis is in the process of getting a divorce from him. The couple’s separation resulted in a rift between Adriene and her teenage daughter Amanda. However, one morning after their separation, Jack tells Adrienne that he still loves her and wants her to move back home. Adrienne asks for some time to think. She drives to Rodanthe to look after a friend’s bed-and-breakfast, romantic beach house for the weekend.
There, the only guest Paul Flanner has his own emotional baggage to carry. He is a surgeon whose last surgery ended up in a failure as the patient died. The patient’s family, who lives in Rodanthe, is suing him for that. As the two share their stories, they turn to each other for emotional comfort and eventually fall in love with each other. The movie proceeds as the two starts to gain the courage to face their problems while exchanging letters after leaving the beach house.
10. The Last Song (2010):
Director: Julie Anne Robinson
Screenplay: Nicholas Sparks, Jeff Van Wie
Cast: Miley Cyrus, Liam Hemsworth, Greg Kinnear, Bobby Coleman
This coming-of-age romantic musical drama movie is the directional debut of Julie Anne Robinson. Nicholas Sparks was approached to write both the novel and the movie’s screenplay. He completed the screenplay of the movie before the completion of the novel. The Last Song is one of those movies based on Nicholas Sparks’s novels with a beautiful soundtrack. Though the movie didn’t receive many positive reviews, its beautiful setting, cast, and music make it worth watching. The story is about a rebellious teenager, Veronica L. Miller, a.k.a Ronnie, who spends the summer with her father and falls in love with a volleyball player Will Blakelee.
Estranged from her father due to her parents’ divorce, 17-year-old teenager Ronnie is forced to spend her summer at her father’s home in Georgia. Under her father’s guidance, Ronnie was once a classical piano child prodigy. However, after her parents’ divorce, there years before the movie’s events, Ronnie has not touched the instrument nor spoken with her father. She refuses to go to a prestigious private art conservatory in New York, Juilliard School, that wants her as a student since she was very young.
When Ronnie’s mother sends her and her brother Jonah to spend the summer with their father, Ronnie rejects, though she ends up going there anyway. Ronnie’s father, Steve Miller, is a former Juilliard Scool professor and concert pianist. After his divorce, he starts living in a small beach town where he grew up. After Ronnie arrives there, she becomes defensive towards everyone around her, including Will Blakelee, a skilled beach volleyball player who aspires to attend a top university. Though the two had some differences when they first met, Ronnie begins developing feelings for Will after knowing more about him. However, a past misunderstanding that includes Will’s best friend and Ronnie’s father forces them to separate their ways.
9. Message in a Bottle (1999):
Director: Luis Mandoki
Screenplay: Gerald Di Pego
Cast: Kevin Costner, Robin Wright, Paul Newman, John Savage
This movie is the first adaption of Nicholas Sparks’ novels. The movie was a moderate hit though it did receive praise for its performance and soundtrack. The story is about a journalist, Theresa Osborne, who discovers a bottle at the beach while jogging there. She finds a heartbreaking letter inside it with no name of the writer. As the words full love in the letter touched her soul, she shares it with her colleagues, and they all decide to publish it in their newspaper.
Theresa eventually tracks the letter author, Garrett Blake, and goes to meet him. Garrett lives on the Outer Banks of North Carolina near his father, Dodge Blake. As the two meet and start getting attracted to each other, Theresa feels guilty for not telling him the real purpose of her visit. She wants to tell him but postpones every time after hesitating as she thinks she will lose him after he knows the truth. Garrett’s wife Catherine, for whom he addressed the letter, died in an accident.
As Theresa’s career flourishes after publishing the romantic “message in a bottle” tale, Garrett decides to visit her in Chicago. He meets Theresa and her young son there, and the three had a good time for a day. However, when Garrett sees the letters in her house, he becomes furious and starts to leave. Theresa stops him by saying that there are three letters of the same kind. Garrett becomes curious as he only wrote two of them. Garrett discovers that Catherine wrote the letter for him. He takes the letter and leaves, leaving Theresa in tears. The movie proceeds as Garrett struggles to cope with his feelings for Theresa and tries to move on from his love for Cathrine.
8. Dear John (2010):
Director: Lasse Hallstrom
Screenplay: Jamie Linden
Cast: Channing Tatum, Amanda Seyfried, Richard Jenkins, Henry Thomas
This is another one of those movies based on Nicholas Sparks’ novels, where the couple’s love is tested during a long separation. Dear John was an international success receiving praise for its cast and music. This heart-breaking movie tells the story of a young couple who are forced to separate with only letters as a way to communicate. The movie follows a soldier who falls in love with a college student. As he gets deployed for war, they plan to exchange letters and keep in touch.
The movie starts in 2003, where a Staff Sergeant, John Tyree, gets shot in Afghanistan while serving in the United States Army Special Forces. He passes out after stating that the last thing he recalls was “you.” Showing the year 2001, the movie tells John’s story where he met and fell in Savannah Curtis before leaving for the war.
While John was on leave in Charleston, South Carolina, he meets Savanna, a college student. Savannah invites him to a bonfire party, and they eventually get closer since then. Over the next two weeks, they go on a few dates and eventually fall in life. Savannah meets John’s father and mentions that he may have autism. As the couple starts making plans to spend the rest of their lives together, the 9/11 attack happens. John had to leave on a mission, and the couple gets separated for years.
7. The Lucky One (2012):
Director: Scott Hicks
Screenplay: Will Fetters
Cast: Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling, Blythe Danner, Riley Thomas Stewart
Though the movie didn’t receive many positive reviews, it was a global success. The Lucky One is a story about a U.S. Marine who finds a photograph of a beautiful woman while he was serving in Iraq. He carries the photo with him as a good luck charm, and later, he tracks down the woman and begins a relationship with her.
The movie follows Logan Thibault’s story, who witnesses a Marine die while attempting to aid his men from an ambush. The next morning, Logan finds a photo of a young woman on the ground a few seconds before an attack killed many around him. As Logan couldn’t find the photo’s owner, he decides to keep it. Believing that his “lucky charm” kept him alive during his duty, Logan returns home, still carrying the photo.
After searching for the woman in the picture, he finds her and learns that her name is Beth Green. On their first meeting, Beth assumes that he wants to apply for a job, and her grandmother hires him. Initially irritated by Logan’s presence, Beth slowly begins to warm up to him. However, as the two start to get close, Beth’s ex-husband tries to stop them from being together.
6. The Choice (2016):
Director: Ross Katz
Screenplay: Bryan Sipe
Cast: Benjamin Walker, Teresa Palmer, Alexandra Daddario, Maggie Grace
The Choice tells the story of two neighbors who fall in love at their first meeting. Though the movie received negative reviews from the critics, the coastal town setting and a pinch of laughter make this movie worth the watch. This movie is a textbook romance with a love triangle where the girl is in a dilemma where she has two options; being with someone who loves her or someone she loves.
Living in Wilmington, a veterinarian, Travis Shaw, falls in love with his neighbor, Gabby Holland, after their first meeting. Gabby recently moved near his house and is a medical student who is in a relationship with a doctor, Ryan McCarthy. Meanwhile, Travis has an on and off relationship with Monica. With her boyfriend out of state for work, Gabby starts spending more time with Travis. However, their relationship gets complicated when Ryan comes back to town and proposes to Gabby.
5. The Best of Me (2014):
Director: Michael Hoffman
Screenplay: Will Fetters
Cast: James Marsden, Michelle Monaghan, Luke Bracey, Liana Liberato
Alternating between flashback and the present, The Best of Me tells the story of two teenage youngsters forced to separate due to differences in their status. They are Dawson Cole and Amanda Collier-Reynolds. This tragic movie is probably one of the most underrated movies based on Nicholas Sparks’ novels. The actor’s performance and the storytelling may not be the best, but you won’t regret watching because of the heart-breaking romance.
The present time shows Dawson working in an oil rig in Louisiana where an explosion on the job nearly takes his life. Though he miraculously survives, it took him months to recover. Dawson learns that Tuck Hostetler, his close friend and surrogate father, died. He returns home after twenty years and meets his high-school love, Amanda Collier. Dawson learns that Amanda is married. As the two catch up, they reminisced about their old times twenty years ago.
Dawson had an abusive father who had a criminal background. As a teenager, Dawson left his home and started living with a mechanic, Tuck, who recently lost his wife. Tuck allowed him to live and treated him as his own son. Dawson and Amanda studied at the same high school and fell in love with each other shortly after dating. However, an unintentional mistake made by Dawson forced the couple to split up.
4. Safe Haven (2013):
Director: Lasse Hallstrom
Screenplay: Dana Stevens, Gage Lansky
Cast: Julianne Hough, Josh Duhamel, Cobie Smulders, David Lyons, Red West
This fantasy thriller movie is different from other movies based on Nicholas’ Sparks’ novels. Safe Haven is the final movie of late actor Red West. Released on Valentine’s Day, 2013, this movie is another Lasse Hallstrom’s movie adapted from Nicholas Sparks’ novels.
The movie follows the story of a mysterious young woman Katie Feldman. She arrives in a small town in North Carolina, and her sudden arrival raises questions about her past. Katie is determined not to have personal ties with anyone there so that no one will know about her past. However, a series of events gets her into two relationships. One is with Alex, a widow and father of two children who runs a store. And another with a local woman Jo, who becomes Katie’s best friend.
Despite setting up boundaries, Katie eventually lets down her guard and grows fond of Alex and his family. However, while falling in love with him, Katie simultaneously struggles with her dark, haunting past. With Jo’s help, Katie decides that she must fight her inner demons to be with the man she loves. But when a mysterious stranger arrives in the town, Katie’s dark past threatens her again.
3. The Longest Ride (2015):
Director: George Tillman, Jr.
Screenplay: Craig Bolotin
Cast: Scott Eastwood, Britt Robertson, Alan Alda, Jack Huston, Melissa Benoist
The Longest Ride is one of the best works of Nicholas Sparks after Notebook. This movie is the perfect example of “opposites attract.” It tells the stories of two couples in different eras. If anything is similar between both the couples, it would be their opposite personalities. However, differences don’t matter in the face of true love, and this is exactly the case for Luke Collins and Sophia Danko.
A former bull rider champion Luke plans to make a comeback at the game, and a college student Sophia is about to remark on her dream job in the art world of New York. The two cross paths after Sophia attends Luke’s show. Luke and Sophia fall in love with each other shortly after their meeting. On their way from their first date, they spot a car crash in the forest and help an older man, Ira Levinson. They discover a box full of letters in the car. When Sophie visited Ira, he told her that he wrote those letters as a teenager to his late wife, Ruth.
When Luke and Sophia attend an art exhibit, Luke realizes how different their worlds are. As he tries to continue making his mark in bull riding, he gets injured but refuses to give up on his career. The couple’s differences start causing a rift in their relationship. However, as the couple breaks up, they get inspired by Ira’s love story with Ruth. As they figure out the similarities between Ira’s love story and theirs, Luke and Sophia realize just how much they mean to each other.
2. A Walk to Remember (2002):
Director: Adam Shankman
Screenplay: Karen Janszen
Cast: Mandy Moore, Shane West, Peter Coyote, Daryl Hannah, Lauren German
You can’t watch this coming-of-age romance movie without bursting into tears. Receiving positive reviews for its acting, soundtrack, chemistry, and storytelling, A Walk to Remember is one of the best movies based on Nicholas Sparks’ novels. Though the novel had a 1950s setting in America, the movie changed it from the 1990s to the early 2000s, as the producers were worried that it would not attract the teenage audience. Nicholas Sparks dedicated the novel to his sister Danielle, whose vexed life inspired this story.
The movie follows Landon Carter, a rebellious high school senior who lives in Beaufort. While he and his group try to prank a new student Clay Gephardt, the fresher gets seriously injured. The school principal gave Landon two choices to avoid law involvement; one is to be expelled from school. The other is to complete several service projects, including tutoring, janitorial duties, etc. Landon chooses the second option and gets close with Jamie Sullivan. Jamie is the daughter of the local Baptist minister, who doesn’t make any friends.
Landon and hid friends make fun of her. However, one day he swallows his pride and asks for her guidance for a school play, to which she agrees. The duo starts getting close with each other, but Landon ruins it by pretending not to be friends with her in front of his group. Jamie distance herself from him when she realizes that Landon wants to keep their friendship a secret from others. Though they did sort out their differences after the school play, and they eventually fell in love. However, the young couple has to face many obstacles when Jamie reveals a secret about her.
1. The Notebook (2004):
Director: Nick Cassavetes
Screenplay: Jeremy Leven
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, Gena Rowlands, James Garner, Kevin Connolly
It goes without saying that when talking about movies based on Nicholas Sparks’ novels, The Notebook has to take the top spot. Based on Nicholas Sparks’ first publication and biggest hit novel, The Notebook is a beautiful love story about two people of different financial backgrounds. Nicholas Sparks’ wrote this novel after the love story of his ex-wife Cathy Code’s grandparents inspired him. Though the novel is not fully based on their life, Nicholas Sparks used their story in his novel. This worldwide hit received praise for its performance, setting, visuals, and story. The Notebook even won an MTV Award for its iconic kissing scene.
The movie begins with Duke, an older man reading a story from an older woman’s old notebook. He narrates a young local worker who fell in love with a rich girl. The girl’s family forced the couple to separate despite passionately being in love with each other. This heart-wrenching love story is set in the middle of a beautiful coastal region of North Carolina during the Second World War.
In 1940, Noah Calhoun, a poor lumber mill worker, encounters a 17-year-old girl Allison Hamilton, a.k.a Allie. She is spending her summer in town with her parents. Noah pursues Allie, and the two start dating, beginning a summer romance. However, her parents’ objections and her mother, Anne’s insults, Noah breaks up with Allie. After she leaves town, Noah writes letters to her every day for a whole year. But because Anne hides them, Allie never got his letters. After not getting a response from her, Noah leaves to serve in the Second World War, while Allie also works as a nurse elsewhere.
Fourteen years later, the memories of their summer together still shackle Noah. He is still in love with her even after so many years. After Allie comes back to town and reunites, Allie realizes that she still loves him even though she has a fiance. The movie proceeds to reveal the older man and woman’s identity and how they are connected to the young couple.