Screenwriter Zak Penn has signed on to rewrite Warner Bros.' video game thriller Ready Player One, four years after the studio first acquired the rights to the novel of the same name by Ernest Cline (Fanboys) in a bidding war.
The story centers on a young teenager named Wade Watts, who escapes into an immersive online virtual world known as Oasis, described as a "social networking utopia that allows its users to lead their dream life." Before the game's creator passes away, he sets up an elaborate treasure hunt where the winner will take control of his company. When Wade enters the contest, he finds himself competing against corporate forces who will stop at nothing to control the company. Donald De Line and Dan Farah are producing.
Ernest Cline novel, which was published by Random House, spawned a bidding war between Paramount, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros., which Warner Bros. eventually won. Ernest Cline wrote the original script on spec, with Eric Eason (A Better Life) also providing a rewrite.
Zak Penn has been tasked with getting the script ready so the studio can take the project to directors this fall. A number of high-profile filmmakers have already expressed interest in the project, especially after Facebook's $2 billion acquisition of Oculus. Zak Penn and Ernest Cline recently developed a friendship after collaborating to excavate a New Mexico burial site where Atari buried several copies of its E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial video game cartridges.
Zak Penn recently signed on to write the Pacific Rim 2 script with director Guillermo del Toro. His other writing credits include Marvel's The Avengers, The Incredible Hulk, X-Men: The Last Stand, The Grand and Elektra.