Prolific director and producer Steven Spielberg is coming back to Warner Bros. to direct the film adaptation of Ready Player One, Ernest Cline’s lauded VR-centric novel set in a dystopian future.
According to Deadline, Spielberg will be coming fresh off directing The BFG (2016) to take on the film adaptation of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, a book that reportedly netted the first-time author a seven-figured sum for its domestic and foreign movie rights when sold to Warner Bros. back in 2010.
The novel is essentially a bleeding-heart love letter to the whole decade of the 1980s and a look forward to a future where VR is pervasive. The book is a nostalgia-packed adventure set in 2044 that takes mild mannered Wade Watts through an elaborately constructed hunt devised by the recently deceased creator of the OASIS, an online multiplayer world accessible only by VR headset. Wade must absorb as much ’80s pop culture, films, books, and video games to win the hunt, and in so doing, inherit the entire fortune of the OASIS creator, the late James Halliday.
Carefully placed ’80s references make up a large portion of the interactions in the novel, which sit alongside Spielberg’s monumentally quotable work from the era including E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (1982), Back to the Future (1985), and the Indiana Jones trilogy. Cline even references Spielberg by name on two separate occasions.
I also absorbed the complete filmographies of each of [Halliday’s] favorite directors. Cameron, Gilliam, Jackson, Fincher, Kubrick, Lucas, Spielberg, Del Toro, Tarantino. And of course, Kevin Smith.
Ernest Cline’s next novel, ARMADA, is set to be released on July 14, 2015.
Oculus founder Palmer Luckey is a fan of Cline’s VR novel; the company invited him to the office back in 2013 to try an early prototype of the headset.
There’s always an inherent risk in adapting beloved novels to film, which sometimes can get out of hand by causing unforeseen budgetary and logistics problems. Spielberg is no stranger to this, as he had also signed on to direct another film adaptation, that of Daniel H. Wilson’s Robopocalypse (2011). Despite going as far to cast Chris Hemsworth and Anne Hathaway as lead characters, Spielberg eventually postponed the project indefinitely. “We found that the film was costing a lot of money and I found a better way to tell the story more economically but also much more personally,” Spielberg told Entertainment Weekly in January of 2013.
In the meantime, we’ll be patiently waiting for trailers and any other news related to Ready Player One’s film adaptation, which if done right could help bring VR back into collective conscious. A good thing for VR enthusiats too, because you’ll never have to bring up Lawnmower Man (1992) in polite company ever again.