At times, everyone needs a good old standby. That one piece of banality that we feel safe going back to. It’s why McDonalds has over 6 billion hamburgers sold. Although just barely satisfying the criteria of what we consider edible, they also come with a sense of safety. We know what to expect and we know it’s never going to change.
Nicholas Sparks has made Hollywood nearly $600 million off this strategy.
Much like the Big Mac, Nicolas Sparks has found the winning ingredients that audiences keep coming back to. Mix one part southern hospitality, add a relationship with the odds stacked against it, and make sure one of the characters is stricken with some form of terminal condition like Alzheimer’s or Leukemia. Oh and don’t forget—white meat only.
Any good marketing strategist knows that it’s not just about letting an audience know of your presence, but also to capture the essence of your product. As a result, the marketing teams behind Nicholas Sparks films know that it’s paramount to adhere to that conformity that makes his novels so popular.
Let’s take an in-depth look at the two types of Nicholas Sparks posters that draw hopeless romantics to the screens:
The “Within Safe Arms” Poster
We’ll start with the less popular style of Nicholas Sparks poster, but by no means less effective. This style of poster focuses on that sense of safety mentioned above, that kind of dependability you can only get from the familiar. Here it’s displayed by the type of security you find in the strong arms of a sensitive lover.
Message in a Bottle
Message in a Bottle was the first Nicolas Sparks movie and marks the first time “Within Safe Arms” was used. You really get a sense of where Nicholas Sparks posters were going artistically as Message in a Bottle sets the template for future ad campaigns. Here we find themes that would be used time and time again in the future, such as extensive use of white-as-fuck people in candid moments and large bodies of water.
A Walk to Remember
We get the sense that Mandy Moore is certainly secure in Shane West’s capable embrace, but the camera is zoomed way in opting to focus on the reactions of our lovers rather than the cascading waves that are absolutely in the background. What this poster lacks in sea-foam and sand it makes up in star power as studios most likely figured, “Hey, it’s 2002 and we have Mandy Moore. This film will sell itself!”
After Dear John (2010), the “Within Safe Arms” poster wouldn’t be seen for another 5 years till it’s triumphant return in The Choice. No real explanation can be given as to why this was the case. It certainly has all the makings of a classic Nicholas Sparks poster. A beach is present, as well as Channing Tatum, an actor who’s, quite possibly, a Frankenstein-like creation begat from the DNA of Stockard Channing and Tatum O’Neill to produce a form of super-caucasian with acting prowess to boot.
The Choice was just released this year and harkens back to a time where Nicholas Sparks movies had the appeal to pull in big names like Mandy Moore. Here we see a return to those times. Happy, smiling faces are the focus here, so the camera is pulled in close. Although a beach is not visible, their bathing suits, as well as the sunglasses they stole from the band LMFAO, say surf and sand aren’t far away.
The “Almost Kiss”
The most famous of these posters is the “Almost Kiss.” It involves a traditional, white, cis couple aged 18-55 coming damn close to locking lips, but not quite.
To better illustrate the yearning these people have for one another, it’s imperative they never actually kiss. It’s also necessary to point out that by staying but inches away from each others’ mouths, it retains that air of mystery that really doesn’t exist in the first place.
Are they ever going to kiss? Of course they are. But like that asshole at your BBQ that pretends to throw the ball to your dog for the sheer enjoyment of seeing the poor creature run 50 yards only to realize it’s still in his hand, this poster is only targeted at the most oblivious theatergoers on the planet.
The one that started it all! This poster is truly a masterpiece. The passion, the yearning. It’s no wonder this is the greatest film in the Nicholas Sparks series as reflected by Rotten Tomatoes’ 52% aggregate rating. Not only is this couple on a beach, but the body of water is seemingly falling on top of them; a torrential downpour despite the fact that there is barely a cloud in the sky.
Nights in Rodanthe
Nights in Rodanthe came out in 2008, and could have been a kick ass fantasy novel had they just put a “K” in front of “Nights.”
Nights of Rodanthe hits all the marks necessary for a good “Almost Kiss” poster, but here we’re also given a ridiculously oversized beach house in the background.
Richard Gere doesn’t even bother to take of his sunglasses. It’s a move that says, “I’m mysterious!” or simply, “Who gives a fuck?”
In return, Diane Keaton gives a look to Gere that’s either saying, “You’re my everything.” or “Really? You’re not even going to try and take them off?”
The Last Song
The Last Song came out in 2010 and stars a pre-twerking Miley Cyrus and that other Hemsworth that isn’t Thor. Unlike most “Almost Kiss” posters, Miley is actually smiling here. These kids are enjoying themselves! No mystery here. Much like the setting sun in the background, it gives us a warm, comforting feeling that we hope won’t disappear over that horizon anytime soon.
The Lucky One
The Lucky One asks one simple question: Who’s the lucky one here? I mean look at these two. Zac Efron’s gaze is fixated, unflinching. You just know there’s no other woman for him. On the hand, the eyes of Piper from Orange is the New Black are facing down, yet just barely open. She has that look that says, “This guy smells SO FUCKING GOOD! Where is that coming from?” Whatever Zac Efron is wearing, it clearly has that musky-but-not-quite-a-musk smell. Is it cardamom? Who knows.
Safe Haven stars two people who are white and are on a beach, proving yet again that some classics never die.
Beach houses make a triumphant return.
The Best of Me
The Best of Me amps up the Sparkiness by showing not one, but two white-as-fuck couples almost kissing!
The Longest Ride
Finally, The Longest Ride came out in 2015 and marks the most recent “Almost Kiss” poster. Scott Eastwood (Somebody) and Britt Robertson (Someone else) star. This poster tries something new by moving our subjects further apart, yet still maintaining that certainty that they are totally about to make out.
Robertson’s hat also guarantees that at least one horse will be making a showing in this film.