Steven Spielberg Going Full-80s, Directing Ernie Cline's Nostalgia-Blast 'Ready Player One'

Wednesday, 25 March 2015 15:13 Written by  iamrogue
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Steven Spielberg Going Full-80s, Directing Ernie Cline's Nostalgia-Blast 'Ready Player One'

Ready Player One just went from "Oh yeah, that'd make a fun movie" to "Holy shit, when can I get in line?"

What could possibly propel the long in-the-works adaptation of Ernest Cline's enjoyably nostalgic kitchen sink scifi adventure to such heights of anticipation?  The fact that Ready Player One is suddenly a Steven Spielberg film.

In case you missed it, Cline's bestseller is a rip-roaring adventure thoroughly based in the author's love of 1980s pop culture. 

Yet it's not actually set in the eighties.  It's set in 2044, when the world is an overcrowded hellhole where inequality and corporate control reign.  The only refuge is OASIS, a sort of no-rules Matrix that's a sprawling virtual reality where anything is possible.  The game's inventor, a child of the eighties, embedded a series of clues and puzzles into OASIS, all of which are part of an elaborate game that will grant the winner control over the digital utopia's future.  When teenage nobody Wade Watts unlocks the first real clue – one whole lot of people have spent years looking for – he kickstarts an epic quest through virtual reality and the actual world.

Read Player One is a book that reads like it's destined to be a blockbuster movie, even if all the allusions (everything from WarGames to video games to Super Sentai-style robot battles) present all manner of rights issues.

Naturally, Cline's book was optioned for a six-figure sum even before it hit shelves.  Producers Donald De Line and Dan Farah have been developing Ready Player One for the last five years.  Cline himself took the first swing at the script, which has subsequently seen work from Eric Easton and, most recently, Cline's buddy Zak Penn.  Warner Bros., which is distributing and co-financing with Village Roadshow, has been shopping for top-tier directors for the last several months, floating names like Peter Jackson and Christopher Nolan.

Now, the studio has snagged the topmost director out there, securing Steven Spielberg to direct.  Per Deadline, Spielberg's deal is done and he's expected to make Ready Player One after The B.F.G., the Roald Dahl adaptation he's shooting this summer.  Prolific as always, Spielberg is currently in post-production on Bridge of Spies, his fact-based 1960s thriller starring Tom Hanks.

He's not "circling" or "in talks," but is actually and completely on board, reuniting with the studio for which he last directed A.I. Artificial Intelligence damn near fifteen years ago.

“We are thrilled to welcome Steven back to Warner Bros,” Greg Silverman, the studio's president of creative development and worldwide production said in an official statement. “We had an historic series of collaborations in the 1980s and 1990s and have wanted to bring him back for years.”

Plus, Silverman is confident that Ready Player One can navigate the treacherous waters of IP clearance. “What we found with The Lego Movie is that when we went and talked to those having the rights, people got excited about being involved,” said Silverman.  Of course, LEGO already had licensing relationships with a lot of the properties represented in that movie, but with Spielberg at the helm, Ready Player One will have quite a bit of clout.

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