Legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg loves to keep busy; he’s currently shooting Bridge of Spies with Tom Hanks before he moves on to the Roald Dahl adaptation The BFG. Terrified at the possibility of having free time on his hands, today the man who brought us Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and much more has lined up another feature he intends to direct in the near future, an adaptation of Ernest Cline‘s 2011 sci-fi adventure novel Ready Player One for Warner Bros.
Spielberg is the first director to officially sign on to this long-developing project after previously attracting attention from the likes of Robert Zemeckis and Christopher Nolan.
Ready Player One is set in the year 2044 and follows teenage hero Wade Watts as he embarks on the adventure of a lifetime to win a complicated scavenger hunt inside the OASIS, an interactive virtual universe where anyone’s wildest dreams can come true. At stake in the hunt is the vast fortune of its creator and complete control of the OASIS, a prize that many would kill to achieve. Wade forms an alliance with several friends and competitors to win the hunt because their greatest adversary is a sinister multinational corporation with unlimited funding and resources that intends to turn the OASIS into a completely for-profit entity if they emerge victorious.
The film rights to Ready Player One were sold to Warner Bros. in 2010, almost a year before the novel’s publication. Cline, the screenwriter of the 2009 comedy Fanboys, loaded Ready with countless references and callbacks to some of the pop culture hallmarks of the 1980s that were a crucial part of his upbringing. In the story, Wade and most of the other players in the hunt have to build an encyclopedic knowledge of that decade’s most popular movies, television shows, books, comics, and arcade and home console video games in order to understand the puzzles and complete the missions designed by the man who created the OASIS, a child of the ’80s himself.
I’ve read Ready Player One twice since it was published. It’s a wonderful, funny, and suspenseful fable that only an impressionable child who grew up to be a gifted scribe could create. As someone who grew up in the ’80s I found so much to love about Cline’s novel that I might read it again sometime soon. You can order Ready Player One here and check it out for yourself. I highly recommend this novel.
Zak Penn (The Incredible Hulk) wrote the screenplay adaptation. He knows a little something about grand-scale spectacle and excitement. Hopefully he managed to nail down the novel’s shifting tones, delicate characterizations, and spirited sense of wonder. Spielberg is the perfect director to bring Ready Player One to life; his movies were one of Cline’s greatest influences. But he won’t be able to turn his full attention to the project until after he completes The BFG, and from now until then he could find something far worthier of his time and energy. I’m not a praying man, but a perfect marriage of filmmaker and film is one that should not be taken for granted.