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Steven Spielberg to direct Ready Player One film adaptation

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Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

The movie adaptation of Ready Player One, Ernest Cline's dystopian sci-fi novel centered on a virtual world steeped in video games and Dungeons & Dragons lore, will be directed by Steven Spielberg, according to a report from Deadline.

Cline's 2011 novel is the story of a skilled gamer named Wade Watts who lives in a dreary future and is obsessed with 1980s popular culture. Wade goes on a virtual treasure quest seeking fame and boundless fortune, as well as an escape from his impoverished life in The Stacks. Cline described the basis for Ready Player One's story as, "What if Willy Wonka was a video game maker and he held his contest with the golden ticket inside a video game? What riddles would there be?"

The book is being adapted for the big screen by Zak Penn, who directed the documentary Atari: Game Over and is co-writing the screenplay with Cline.

Ready Player One is stuffed with references to '80s pop culture, including a long list of classic arcade games like Space Invaders, Defender and Galaga, and Atari 2600 game Adventure. Beyond that, there are major references to Japanese properties like Ultraman and Godzilla, as well as nods to television shows, sci-fi and fantasy books, pop songs and so much more.

Greg Silverman, studio president of creative development and worldwide production at Warner Bros., told Deadline the studio plans to "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," Silverman said.

Warner Bros. purchased the film rights to Ready Player One in 2010, prior to the book being published by Random House. Spielberg is said to tackle Ready Player One after he's done with his current project, The BFG, which is based on the Roald Dahl novel and not a Doom weapon.

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