Channing Tatum to star in Sparks adaptation

Lasse Hallstrom is set to direct Channing Tatum in “Dear John,” a Nicholas Sparks book adaptation that starts production in September.

Screen Gems and Relativity Media have come aboard the film, which had been developed by Temple Hill partners Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey for New Line as part of their first-look producing deal.

It is one of the first high-profile titles to be put into turnaround since New Line was downsized.

Bowen and Godfrey are producing. Relativity’s Ryan Kavanaugh and Tucker Tooley will exec produce.

Tatum stars as a soldier who, while home on leave, falls for a conservative college student.

Relativity will fully finance the film, while Screen Gems will distribute domestically and in a few other territories.

Relativity has engaged Mandate Intl. to broker offshore territories. “Dear John” is being sold at Cannes with two other Relativity-financed films: the Simon West-directed Vin Diesel starrer “Executive Order 6,” and the Samuel Bayer-directed Scarlett Johansson starrer “Brilliant.”

Sparks’ books have been the basis for the films “Message in a Bottle,” “The Notebook,” “A Walk to Remember” and the recently completed Diane Lane-Richard Gere starrer “Nights in Rodanthe.”

“I went after it aggressively,” said Screen Gems topper Clint Culpepper. “Lasse handles this material so well.”

Tatum is currently shooting “G.I. Joe.”

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