The novels of North Carolina resident Nicholas Sparks — all set in his home state — have become in-demand source material for studios eager to lure in female moviegoers with tears to spare: Dear John has grossed $65.8 million in three weeks; Disney’s The Last Song (with Miley Cyrus) opens in March; and in April, Warner Bros. starts shooting The Lucky One, most likely with director Scott Hicks (Shine). But, in a geographic slap in the face, The Last Song was shot in Georgia, and Dear John in South Carolina, so next month North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue is making a pilgrimage to Hollywood to help bring his novels home: She’ll be dangling a fat, newly raised to 25 percent film tax credit before Hollywood’s producers — especially those adapting Sparks’s novels.
Insiders tell Vulture that Love in the Time of Cholera producer Scott Steindorff (who’s adapting Sparks’s novel True Believer as an indie) is among those invited to dine with the gov, who’s offering up to $7.5 million in “cash back” for just about any feature film that shoots in North Carolina this year. Chrissy Pearson, the governor’s communications director, declined to identify who had been invited to dinner, but did confirm to Vulture that Perdue is coming to meet as many producers as she can while in town.
Pearson points out that Perdue has another rationale for offering Hollywood blandishments: Sparks and Perdue are neighbors in New Bern, North Carolina, owning homes just down the road from one another. “Everyone seems to think she’s the one to get him to stay in North Carolina,” says Pearson, “since she’s able to more or less yell at him through her fence.” The words, “Hey, Nick, I got you big cash and you can drive to the set!” usually tend to keep things neighborly.