This has been a summer of knock down, drag out action, with Iron Men, vampires and dream thieves battling it out for both survival on screen and box office supremacy off screen. But while the action in the cineplex has been fierce, Hollywood's biggest battle has been secretly taking place in back rooms and boardrooms, as studios vie for the biggest prize of the year: a juicy new Nicholas Sparks romance.

Okay, so maybe that doesn't sound like your typical bloodbath, but Disney, Fox, Sony and Warner Bros. were all apparently in the bidding war that broke out over the latest Sparks offering, 'Safe Haven,' which is set to hit bookstore shelves on September 14. But according to The Hollywood Reporter, when the dust settled, it was actually Relativity Media who came away with the rights.

So what's the big deal about? Part of it is the fact that Sparks has a proven track record not just with literary geeks but also at the box office; the unheralded war weepie 'Dear John' unexpectedly brought in $112 worldwide earlier this year while previous films like 'Nights in Rodanthe,' 'Message in a Bottle' and 'The Notebook' all delivered as well. This has been a summer of knock down, drag out action, with Iron Men, vampires and dream thieves battling it out for both survival on screen and box office supremacy off screen. But while the action in the cineplex has been fierce, Hollywood's biggest battle has been secretly taking place in back rooms and boardrooms, as studios vie for the biggest prize of the year: a juicy new Nicholas Sparks romance.

Okay, so maybe that doesn't sound like your typical bloodbath, but Disney, Fox, Sony and Warner Bros. were all apparently in the bidding war that broke out over the latest Sparks offering, 'Safe Haven,' which is set to hit bookstore shelves on September 14. But according to The Hollywood Reporter, when the dust settled, it was actually Relativity Media who came away with the rights.

So what's the big deal about? Part of it is the fact that Sparks has a proven track record not just with literary geeks but also at the box office; the unheralded war weepie 'Dear John' unexpectedly brought in $112 worldwide earlier this year while previous films like 'Nights in Rodanthe,' 'Message in a Bottle' and 'The Notebook' all delivered as well.

And this time around, 'Safe Haven' provides another juicy twist for studios: it's not just a romance, it's a romantic thriller. According to the Amazon.com description, the story revolves around "a mysterious young woman named Katie" who "struggles with the dark secret that still haunts and terrifies her" and which "set her on a fearful, shattering journey across the country" before she finally realizes, thanks to the love of a good man, that "in the darkest hour, love is the only true safe haven."

With the deal inked and Relativity swinging into full gear on the film adaptation, the question now is: who should star in the film? While there are other juicy roles -- including the widowed father of two Katie falls for, Alex, and her mentor Jo -- the film will likely rise or fall based on who plays the lead. Here are our three (very different) choices for the role:

Noomi RapaceNoomi Rapace After drawing raves worldwide for her portrayal of Lisbeth Salander in 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,' Rapace is ready for the next step: Hollywood. We think she'd be perfect as the troubled Katie. And hey -- she's already proven she knows how to handle literary adaptations.

Lindsay LohanLindsay Lohan A young woman running from her past, trying to make a new life for herself and in need of redemption. Hmm. Sound like anyone we know? Sure, she's basically human poison ivy right now as far as most studios are concerned, but rarely do we get a chance to see life imitating art imitating life quite as perfectly as this. Maybe this is the shot Lohan needs to finally straighten herself out.

Gabourey SidibeGabourey Sidibe No, Sidibe, who made her mark with 'Precious,' isn't the typical waif or Hollywood ingenue that this type of role normally goes to. But isn't that the point? There's no reason this story couldn't be written for her and we think that adding Sidibe's unique charm to the part could help it stand out from the rest of Hollywood's usually bland romantic offerings.
CATEGORIES Movies