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DEAR JOHN

About The Production
The screen version of Dear John found its "spark” when producer Marty Bowen was given the manuscript of bestselling author Nicholas Sparks' novel before it was even published. "I found myself completely touched by it,” says Bowen. "Sparks has a way of writing that allows you to get lost in this world, these characters, and the beautiful Carolina environment he paints. And there were certain twists in the story that I just wasn't expecting.

"When I finished the book,” Bowen says, "my biggest concern was I just didn't feel like there was anybody actor-wise who'd really be able to pull off this ‘perfect guy.' Part masculine soldier, willing to do whatever he has to do for his country, and then also this softer somebody who can fall in love with a girl completely and possibly be heartbroken by the experience.”

Then Bowen thought of Channing Tatum. "I had seen Channing in several films, including A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints and Step Up,” he says. "In thinking about it, I was amazed to see he had both of these characteristics. I thought, ‘If Channing would want me to develop this, then it would be a project that would really excite me.' We gave the book to his representatives and Channing loved it. It was perfect for him.” The film had found its dear John.

With Tatum on board, Bowen and producing partner Wyck Godfrey (the duo also shepherded the blockbuster Twilight film franchise to the big screen) knew they'd found their next project. As the book Dear John became another in an incredible string of publishing hits for Sparks, the film began to gain momentum and take shape.

The producers turned to screenwriter Jamie Linden to adapt the novel for the big screen. They'd admired Linden's We Are Marshall and thought he'd bring great perspective to the adaptation. Interestingly, however, Linden actually initially passed on the project, not having had the experience of (and not being entirely comfortable with) writing a love story. "But I kept thinking about it,” Linden says, "and couldn't get it out of my head.” The film is by and large a romance, but what ultimately captivated Linden and became the way into the story for him was the relationship between John and his father, Mr. Tyree. Linden thought of a different way to handle the climactic father/son scene from the book, and that made him want to tackle the entire screenplay.

"In the book, [that scene between father and son] had been done in a very straightforward manner, where they're very open about their feelings,” says Linden. Instead, he came up with the idea of furthering the story's use of letter writing by having John write a letter to his father; he then reads the letter to his father in their most emotional encounter. "I really wanted to see that scene get put on film,” Linden says. "So to get that done, I had to do the entire movie.” Linden's participation in the film was a go.

"Dear John is a love story between John and Savannah,” Linden continues, "but it's also a love story between John and his dad. In that respect, I think it's got some depth, scope, and character that make it resonate.”

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