Becoming Nicholas Sparks’ literary agent and then film production president might not seem like the best preparation for making a romantic drama about cannibalism, but Per Capita Prods. founder Theresa Park is transitioning to a wider, edgier range of projects with ease.
Park is producing an animated children’s show based on Michael Buckley’s bestselling fantasy novel series “The Sisters Grimm” for Apple TV+. And she arrives in Venice for the Sept. 2 world premiere of “Bones and All,” Luca Guadagnino’s adaptation of Camille DeAngelis’s novel about a couple (Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell) whose tastes run more towards hand eating than the hand holding found in Sparks’ works. The MGM/UA feature follows two other offbeat projects in Per Capita’s first year of releases: A24’s robot drama “After Yang” starring Colin Farrell and the Apple TV+ female-centered series “Roar” with Nicole Kidman.
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“I sort of backed into producing,” Park admits. “It was never my intention or goal.” But her background prepared her for unexpected detours. The U.S.-born child of Japanese and Korean immigrants was raised in Germany, Lebanon and Vienna, thanks to her father’s United Nations career. After attending Harvard Law School, she grew unsatisfied with her job as a Silicon Valley attorney and moved to New York City to become a lit agency assistant in 1994. A Sparks manuscript no one wanted to represent — “The Notebook” — landed on her desk a year later.
Their many successes led her to launch the Park Literary Group in 2005, then join forces with others to form Park & Fine Literary and Media in 2019. Giving development notes on Sparks’ films was her path to becoming president of production at Nicholas Sparks Prods. from 2010-2016, where she made big screen versions of “The Best of Me,” “The Longest Ride” and “The Choice.” “I almost got dragged into it, but I found that I really enjoyed it,” she recalls.
When Sparks’ company shuttered in 2016, “it was a chance to spread my wings and explore material that reflected the greater breadth of my interests. Being Asian-American and mostly growing up abroad, I’m very interested in working with diverse, unusual voices, particularly with international perspectives.”
Park is now a senior advisor at her agency, spending almost all of her time on her production shingle. “I want to focus on projects that are not client-based, because the kind of fiction I tend to represent is usually pretty commercial, genre stuff.” In 2016, she optioned “Bones and All” which, despite its violent subject matter, is actually a young adult novel.
Next up, Per Capita is producing another Nicole Kidman-toplined, female-centric series, “Expats,” based on Janice Y.K. Lee’s novel “The Expatriates,” for Amazon Prime. Other projects in development include a series based on Joel Kostman’s memoir “Keys to the City: Tales of a New York City Locksmith” (produced with Anonymous Content) and writer/director Veena Sud’s feature adaptation of Alexander Weinstein’s sci-fi short story “The Cartographers.” And outside of Per Capita, Park will return to producing Sparks adaptations, alongside Anonymous Content, through his three-picture deal with Universal.
“What I love about producing is that it brings together the analytical, the financial and the creative,” Park says. “That’s really where the magic is.”
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