Just in time for Valentine’s Day will be the arrival of yet another Nicholas Sparks novel adapted to the big screen. The latest release, “Safe Haven,” will star Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel. Hough portrays the role of Katie, a mysterious woman newly arrived in a small North Carolina town who is actually on the run from the law. All she is looking for is a place where she can start a new life. What she does not anticipate is meeting an appealing widower, played by Duhamel, who is fighting demons of his own as he tries to put his own past behind him. Initially, Katie struggles against her feelings for Alex, but once she finally gives in, her past will come to bear against the new couple.
The big-screen adaptation of this Sparks novel is the seventh such adaptation. Lasse Hallstrom directs this latest film. While many of Sparks’ novels-turned-movies share a host of the same qualities, these shared qualities are likely to make “Safe Haven” as much of a success as “Dear John” and “The Notebook.” There was little doubt that the novel would eventually make its way to theaters when Relativity Media scooped the movie rights to the book as soon as it arrived on bookshelves in 2010.
Hallstrom is certainly familiar enough with the Sparks genre of novels to do the book justice on the big screen. In 2010, He directed “Dear John,” which starred Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried. Ultimately, it raked in more than $114 million worldwide. Hallstrom has directed a number of films and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director in 1985 for “My Life as a Dog.” He also received a nomination for his directorial work on “The Cider House Rules” in 1999. Dana Stevens was selected to handle penning the script from the best-selling novel. Add in the fact that Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen, both of whom produced “The Twilight Saga,” came on board to produce “Safe Haven” and it is safe to say that the film has a chance to be a hit at the box office. The acquisition of the film rights for the novel so soon after publication was hardly a surprise considering that so many other Nicholas Sparks novels had already been scooped up and turned into successful movie productions. “The Last Song” earned a respectable $88 million worldwide. Filming for “Safe Haven” began in June of 2012 in Southport and Wilmington, North Carolina.
A trailer has already been released for the film. While there is no doubt that this film will primarily center on the romance that develops between Duhamel’s and Hough’s characters, it is not strictly a romance. There is plenty of suspense to go around and keep viewers in their seats as Katie’s secrets threaten her developing relationship with Alex and her quest to put down roots in her adopted hometown. Ultimately, Katie will need to discover the true meaning of sacrifice as her ability to choose between a life filled with shifting safety and rewards that are far riskier is put to the test. It is in the midst of this struggle that she discovers love is actually the only real safe haven.
As fans are already aware, Julianne Hough started her path to fame as a dancer on “Dancing with the Stars.” She has since turned her attention toward developing an acting career. Hough actually landed her first acting role in “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” in 2001. She has also appeared in a musical along with Christina Aguilera and Cher. One of her more recent and prominent roles was as the character Ariel Moore in the remake of “Footloose” in 2011. Hough does have some big shoes to fill as she steps into the role of one of Sparks’s heroines. Miley Cyrus and Amanda Seyfried have gone before her in portraying much loved Nicholas Sparks’s female leads. The other lead in the film, Josh Duhamel, is certainly no stranger to fans. He has appeared in such films as “Life as We Know It” and “Fire with Fire.”
“Safe Haven” is scheduled to arrive in theaters on February 8, 2013. The February release date is hardly a coincidence for the release of this romance and puts it just in time for Valentine’s Day. Whether or not “Safe Haven” will be able to measure up to the box office success of “Dear John” and “The Notebook” remains to be seen, but it certainly seems to have all of the right ingredients, including the perfect Valentine’s Day release date.