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Screenwriter Zak Penn Rewriting 'Ready Player One' for Warner Bros

by
June 24, 2014
Source: The Wrap

Ready Player One

Geek news from Hollywood to keep us in anticipation. One of my favorite novels published in the last few years is Ready Player One, written by Ernie Cline, a fantastic adventure about a kid from 80s living in a dystopian digital future where everyone is playing a global Second Life-like game to win the game creator's vast wealth. It's filled with so many geeky references galore, but it's an awesome book, and it will make for a great movie, if they do it right (more on that later). While we've known for a while now that Warner Bros is planning to adapt the book into a movie, The Wrap is now reporting that they're pushing forward by hiring a prominent geek screenwriter, Zak Penn, to rewrite the first draft co-written by the author and Eric Eason.

Here's another synopsis for Ernie Cline's Ready Player One, first published in 2011. Get your own copy. For more information, visit the book's official website or follow their Facebook page, where Ernie posts often.

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

Ready Player One is currently in development under producers Donald De Line and Dan Farah, at Warner Bros. Village Roadshow will co-finance and co-produce as well. Zak Penn is a big geek as well, and a perfect fit for this. Penn worked on early drafts of The Avengers and X2 scripts, is credited on The Incredible Hulk, X-Men: Last Stand and Elektra, and wrote/directed the indie film The Grand set at a poker tournament. Apparently Penn and Cline became friends while recently visiting the uncovered New Mexico burial site where Atari dumped many of its old games, and the rest is now history. Penn will take his shot at rewriting Ready Player One, and maybe this will help get things closer to actually seeing this movie made one day.

Here's the thing - as awesome as Ready Player One is, it's a hard book to adapt into a movie, because there's so much going on. They need to get all the references in there, they need to develop the OASIS virtual world without it looking too cheesy, and in general it's just a vast gaming story set in a future where there's a lot going on, but with the right budget and support, maybe they can pull it off. The Wrap does actually mention that "several high-profile filmmakers have already expressed interest in the project" and they're looking to secure a director this fall. We'll keep an eye out for any updates. In the meantime, just go read the book.

Handheld photo of the book above borrowed from All the rest is treason, found via the book's Tumblr blog.

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  • syntaxterror
    I found the book to be too reliant on all the references and not enough on actual story and character development. Sure, it's fun to read it and go "hey, I know that game or movie or whatever" but when that's all you've got going for a story, it becomes more of a "wink wink" at the reader than anything.
  • DAVIDPD
    Penn is definitely hit and miss. The premise has potential.
  • tati is not a twit
    I enjoyed this book as a fun read. My son grew up through the 80s, so I was quite familiar with all of the references. It will be interesting to see it translated to the big screen.

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