Ernie Cline

Update: As expected, the book sparked a bidding war between four Hollywood studios and Warner Bros. Pictures and De Line Pictures ended up winning the rights. Cline will write the screenplay adaptation of his novel, to be produced by Donald De Line (Green Lantern) and Dan Farah. [deadline]

In one of the largest deals ever for a first time young adult fiction writer, Random House has won a bidding war for Fanboys/Thundercade screenwriter Ernie Cline‘s debut novel Ready Player One. RH paid an almost record mid to high-six figures for the North American rights for the unpublished book, and international rights are being shopped. The movie rights will go on auction tomorrow morning, and many expect a feature film acquisition will happen by Monday at very latest.

What is it about? Here is the official synopsis:

In the near future, outcast teenager Wade Watts escapes from his bleak surroundings by logging in to the OASIS, a globally networked virtual utopia where users can lead idyllic alternate lives. When the eccentric billionaire who created the OASIS dies, he offers up his vast fortune as the prize in an elaborate treasure hunt. Along with gamers from around the world, Wade joins the adventure, and quickly finds himself pitted against powerful corporate foes and other ruthless competitors who will do anything, in the oasis or the real world, to reach the treasure first.

Trackingb calls it “WILLY WONKA, THE MATRIX, and AVATAR all rolled into one. I’ve never seen the online virtual world thing been done good on film (and I’m not talking Tron or The Matrix, I’m talking about online virtual communities like World of Warcraft or Second Life), but this premise sounds promising.

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