Anything Christopher Nolan puts his hands on is going to be regarded with the utmost attention, as his films are the rare breeds that mix imaginative intelligence with big box office grosses. So I’m pleasurably aghast that Warner Bros. has reportedly offered Nolan the chance to follow up the massive space event Interstellar by directing the planned adaptation of Ernest Cline’s superb virtual reality thriller-comedy-drama Ready Player One. Christopher Nolan + a flawless video game-inspired story + a budget to bring this crazy ass story to life = OMGOMGOMG.
News of Warner Bros. offer comes from Tracking Board, so we’re not quite sure what that means for legitimacy’s sake. We only just recently had to deal with reports that Ready Player One is on a massively expensive path, so this kind of amazing news would lead to riotous fury should it prove false.
For those unaware—and you’d be doing yourself a good service by becoming aware—Ready Player One takes place in a not-so-distant future where the world is going to shit as fossil fuels have dried up, a huge chunk of the population is hooked on a virtual world called OASIS, which is pretty much an immersive virtual reality Internet where your avatar experiences many things that are unavailable in real life. The system’s now-deceased creator hid a series of objects within the computerized world that could lead to a lifetimes of riches, which guides the main character Wade Watts on a quest to win the game no matter what. And there are a LOT of things standing in his way.
But the first WTF thing happening here is that Christopher Nolan movies, while at times being on-the-nose with themes and exposition, are not very direct with the pop culture of the worlds the characters live in. Ready Player One is about 20% callbacks to video games, movies, TV shows, etc. The second WTF aspect? This movie already has a script from X2 screenwriter Zak Penn (Incident at Loch Ness)), and not his brother Jonathan Nolan or David S. Goyer. Nolan hasn’t worked with anyone else’s scripts (aside from his own) since 2002’s Insomnia.
It was just last week that it was reported Warner Bros. hadn’t cleared the rights to all of the games in the screenplay just yet. Penn said that in writing the script, he worked closely with Cline on what he removed and what he kept in, knowing that rights issues would be coming down the line. Had the studio started looking for a lesser-known director at this point, that could have spelled trouble. Instead, they went with the guy whose films have always made back at least twice their budgets in worldwide grosses. If Nolan does sign on, more video games and companies will probably try and get involved.
Failure is impossible with Nolan, so let’s hope he doesn’t fail to take on this unique and expansive adventure. Seriously, read it if you haven’t. And read it again if you have.