Back in 2011, Ernest Cline’s ‘Ready Player One’ made a splash with fans of 80s pop culture references, which, if we’re being honest, was basically everyone who even looked at the cover of the book. The story follows a teen gamer as he explores a virtual utopia called OASIS, which is made up of references to other classic games and movies, in order to find a hidden Easter egg that will give the finder control of that world.
Sounds exciting, right? Well, the debut novel from the screenwriter of ‘Fanboys’ was popular with movie studios even before it hit the shelves of our local bookstores. Ultimately, Warner Bros. won the film rights for this story that has been described as a cross between ‘The Matrix’ and ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ and attached Eric Eason to work with the script. Things went silent on the project after that until late 2014 when ‘The Avengers’ and ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’ writer Zak Penn was revealed to have taken a pass at the script. Things got even more ramped up when talks emerged about Christopher Nolan possibly directing the film, but it turns out that the studio went in another direction entirely in terms of a director. Though Nolan is a great filmmaker in his own right, it appears that WB went straight to the source of the classic nostalgia contained in the story.
According to Deadline, Steven Spielberg has signed on to direct ‘Ready Player One’. The acclaimed filmmaker behind ‘E.T.’, the ‘Indiana Jones’ series, ‘Jaws’, and many more iconic movies is said to tackle the adaptation of Cline’s book after ‘The BFG’, which shoots later this year. And since Spielberg is the one who ushered in many of the references in the novel into pop culture with his movies from the 70s and 80s, it seems like he would be a very interesting choice to work on a film so rooted in his own filmography.
However, Spielberg isn’t the only one that influenced the virtual world of Wade Watts. Things like ‘Firefly’, Monty Python, ‘Star Wars’, Kevin Smith, and a number of old games like ‘Galaga’ and ‘Pac-Man’ all make appearances in some way in the story. Well, Warner Bros. recently had to deal with a similar situation with ‘The Lego Movie,’ so WB’s President of Creative Development and Worldwide Production Greg Silverman doesn’t seem too concerned:
“I think what we have to do is drill down to the best version of the movie and then see who wants to be a part of what will surely be a great film. 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.”
‘Ready Player One’ marks Spielberg’s first film with Warner Bros. since ‘A.I. Artificial Intelligence.’ Prior to that, he had many hits as a director with films like ‘Empire of the Sun’ and ‘The Color Purple’ and as a producer on ‘Gremlins’ and ‘The Goonies.’
But what do you think about his latest project with the studio? Do you think that we have another hit on our hands? Or might Spielberg be too close to the material to truly deliver the best version of the story? Share your thoughts in the comments.