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Movienomics: Analyzing the Cheek-Embracing World of Nicholas Sparks Movie Posters (updated)

June 20, 2016


I love researching movie posters. I’ve already studied Jason Statham posters and explored whether explosions on action movie posters matter.  That is why I am excited to bring you this post. Nicholas Spark’s has had an incredibly schmaltzy run throughout the last 16 years and the movie posters for his book adaptations tell a tale.

Sparks movie posters

Nicholas Spark’s book adaptations have become a moneymaking machine that combines well-known actors and a whole lot of melodrama. Sparks has become a brand and when you say it is a “Nicholas Sparks film” people know exactly what to expect.  What does it mean to be a Sparks film? The movie needs beaches, mudslides, drowning, ghosts, cancer, untimely death, spunky grandparents, cute kids and some sort of lie.  A pattern is afoot and I wanted to check if there is a correlation between the movie posters and box office/critical reception.

I wrote the original post before The Longest Ride and The Choice were released and decided it needed an update. Also, news came out recently that Nicholas Sparks was shutting down his production company. The writing was on the wall but this might actually be good news for Sparks fans. Why? Well, his movies do better when he isn’t a producer. Here is the breakdown.

Average Critical Reception (according to Rotten Tomatoes) and average domestic box office (according to box office mojo) of the films he produced (Safe Haven, The Best of Me, The Longest Ride, The Choice) = 15.25% RT and $40,210,150

Average Critical Reception and average domestic box office of the films he didn’t produce (Message in a Bottle, Nights in Rodanthe, A Walk to Remember, The Notebook, Dear John, The Last Song, The Lucky One) = 30% RT and $75,769,785.

The audiences scores were roughly the same (Sparks produced = 64.75. Did not produce = 66.85) but there was a massive drop in quality in the later films. If you’ve watched all 11 of the films you will realize they are all bonkers, so any of them if done right had the chance to succeed. I actually like The Longest Ride (for a Sparks movie) and felt that is was on par with earlier Sparks films, but audiences were still sour from The Best of Me so it was doomed. The Choice never had a chance because of the watered-down nature of the Sparks name.

So, if bigger studios decide to go back to the Sparks world they should consider having somebody else write the screenplay. If might work!

Here is the revised Nicholas Sparks data!



Here are the movie posters for The Best of Me. The Longest Ride and The Choice

Sparks posters

The following post takes a look at the posters and analyzes the box office, critical reception, and audience ratings of Nicholas Sparks films. The average domestic box-office (per Box Office Mojo) is $67,222,736 and the average Rotten Tomatoes critic score is 24.6%. The thing I find most interesting is that these films are critic-proof. The critic score is 24.6% but the audience score is 66% (Per RT). The average budget is $28 million and the average box office is $67 million dollars! However, things are changing and so are the movie posters.

Here is the data from the movie posters

Posters featuring beach cuddles: Message in a bottle, Dear John, The Choice and Walk to Remember have accrued a 24.75% RT (-.25 on average) score and 65.25% (=) Audience score. the box office average is $66,840,500.

When I first collected the data the posters featuring cuddles had a much higher critic and box office average. However, The Choice happened and the numbers plummeted.

The good thing according to EW is they are some of the least ridiculous of Sparks films. Walk to Remember is the least ridiculous at eight while John and Message rank six and three. The posters are more creative as well. The posters are expansive, intimate and most importantly no faces are grabbed. Too bad The Choice dragged the critic and box office numbers down.

Posters featuring head grabs of doom: Nights in Rodanthe, Safe Haven, The Best of Me, The Last Song and The Lucky One and have accrued an 18% (-7) RT score and 62% (-4) Audience score. The average box-office score is $61,307,960.

The Nicholas Spark’s films have taken a serious nosedive as of late. The last six films have an average 16.8% RT score and the posters basically look the same. With the exception of Nights in Rodanthe (2nd most ridiculous Sparks film and my least favorite of the 11) they’ve gotten progressively more soul-crushing and Sparksesque (Safe Haven was ranked the most ridiculous).

Safe Haven (12%), The Lucky One (20%), The Best of Me (8%) and The Last Song (20%) make up four of the five lowest critically rated films and they can get really weird. I don’t want to spoil anything but there are ghosts, the awesome Diane Lane in mom jeans and untimely deaths that are really mean. Also, these movies have the lowest averaged audience score (62%) AND domestic box office.

Colbie Smulders Safe haven

Cobie Smulders in Safe Haven =  A lot of confusion.

Posters featuring something other than beach cuddles or head grabs: The Notebook and The Longest Ride collected a 40.5% RT (+15.9) score and 78%(+12) Audience Score. The box-office is $79,845,400.

The Notebook was incredibly passionate and super bonkers and Rachel McAdam’s character is by far the most three-dimensional of Spark’s ladies (she literally fought for her character) and Ryan Gosling became a megastar overnight because of this movie. The Notebook is by far the most popular of the nine films because of the great acting, passion, and all around care spent on the script. I would rank the poster #1 on the romance scale. They look genuinely involved. If you look at the other posters the people look sorta bored.

Conclusion: The first five films attempted to take Nicholas Spark’s books and do something with them. They tried to work around the schmaltz, contrivances, syrup, mourning, melodrama, and sentiment. However, eventually, they gave up and gave in to Sparks. He started producing the movies, and now they stick to a safe formula and facepalming posters.

Maybe Sparks productions shutting down might be good for future Sparks adaptations.

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