There’s been a lot of talk lately about the adaptation of Ernest Cline’s novel Ready Player One, and it’s both an exciting and unnerving prospect. The book is so damn good that we’d love to see a big screen version done right, but it’s so damn complicated and problematic that is also seems almost unfilmable. Earlier we heard that an unexpected name, Christopher Nolan, had been offered the chance to direct the film, but now there are reports that four other names are being considered, or are at least on the studio’s dream wish list.
According to Ain’t It Cool, the four new names are Edgar Wright, Peter Jackson, Matthew Vaughn, and Robert Zemeckis. Remember what I said about it being dream list, as they are definitely shooting for the stars here. Any one of these, Nolan included, could be an awesome fit and bring their own unique set of virtues to Ready Player One.
Just the other day, when it was reported that Roberto Orci is leaving the director’s chair on Star Trek 3, Wright’s name was mentioned as a possible replacement. That would be awesome, but in the comments section on that post, one person wrote that, while a Wright-directed Trek movie might be fantastic, he’d like to see him get a crack at Ready Player One, and the two do seem like a natural fit. The book is full to overflowing with references and nods to popular culture, something that Wright handled well with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, a movie that also has a manic energy similar to Cline’s novel.
Jackson is just a huge, huge nerd, as illustrated by his Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movies, and his love of Doctor Who. Ready Player One could give him the chance to explore tons of strange new worlds, something he’s proven himself more than capable of pulling off, and with movies like Dead Alive, we’re all well aware of his twisted sense of humor, which he’d need for this.
Of these names, Zemeckis seems like the biggest in-a-perfect-world choice, primarily because his films are referenced over and over again in the book. How rad would that be to have an artist you reference in your novel direct the adaptation? The prospect probably makes Cline do a little happy dance.
Vaughn is the option that I’d be least enthusiastic about. I enjoy his movies, especially X-Men: First Class, and films like Kick-Ass and Layer Cake show that he could bring an edge to the proceedings, but there’s something about his resume that doesn’t seem like as natural a fit as some of the other names. But I’d love nothing more than to be proven wrong.
Any of these folks would likely do a fine job, but we can’t help but be super curious to see how this plays out. One of the biggest hurdles to clear has been all of very specific references to games, movies, shows, and more that Cline includes in his story. Much of the book is set in a virtual reality world where entire planets are often based on a specific videogame or film. In print you can get away with mentioning all of that, but when you show that on screen, you have to clear the rights, and with the sheer volume of these moments, that’s going to get complex and pricy.
You write a script, you take your chances, you say, ‘This is what we’re going to do. This is where we’re going to take cars and scenes from these movies and these properties,’ and then you hope that you’ll get the rights to it, but we’re not at that point yet. I just finished the script. When you start getting into production and casting, that’s when you would start going through and saying, ‘Okay, can we get the rights to Donkey Kong?’ or what have you. It’s very different in a film like that than it is in a documentary where you can just declare fair use and do it.
He worked closely with Cline to figure out what to keep and what to jettison, and hopefully we’ll hear more soon. There’s no timeline for Ready Player One just yet, but with all of this talk, it definitely appears that the ball is rolling.
Which of these filmmakers would you like to see direct Ready Player One? Or do you have someone else in mind? Sound off in comments below.