After the insanely popular success of “Avatar,” every studio and production entity in Hollywood is trying to develop new pictures set in “immersive” worlds. And it’s not just “Avatar” that is being put up on a pedestal. Fantasy environments that hook audiences with 3-D is what most executives believe propelled “Alice in Wonderland” and “Clash of the Titans” into becoming blockbusters and are seen as indicators that this formula works. Therefore, it’s no surprise some clever agents and writers are using it to their advantage. The latest contender? The rights to the new novel “Ready Player One” by “Fanboys” screenwriter Ernie Cline. The result? Warner Bros. won a bidding war with Paramount Pictures and other interested parties on Friday.
According to Variety, “Ready Player One” was described during the auction as a mix of “Avatar,” “The Matrix” and “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (keywords to studio execs these days). The story reportedly centers on a teenager who is able to escape his horrible day to day life by entering a virtual world known as Oasis. When the game’s founder dies leaving his vast fortune as a grand prize, our hero finds himself up battling some nasty players in order to land the fortune.
Based on the pitch, the novel (which was picked up by Random House only a day earlier), sounds as though it’s aimed more for young teens than the more adult-themed “Avatar” or “Matrix.” However, while “Ready” has a long way to go before getting to the screen, Warner Bros. might want to consider aging up the hero before getting in too deep on this one. Because you can guarantee that if Garrett Hedlund’s character in “Tron Legacy” was the age of Logan Lerman in “Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief,” interest in the expected December blockbuster would be much lower than it is now.
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