Steven Spielberg will direct sci-fi film 'Ready Player One' for Warner Bros.

Steven Spielberg is set to tackle the virtual-reality tale 'Ready Player One' for Warner Bros.

It's game on for Steven Spielberg. The Oscar-winning filmmaker is set to direct and produce an adaptation of Ernest Cline's sci-fi novel "Ready Player One" for Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow, The Times has confirmed.

Set in a near future where people are more connected to an advanced virtual reality known as the Oasis than to the real world, Cline's 2011 best-seller has been described as a cross between "The Matrix" and a Willie Wonka story. Expectations will be high for the project, which brings together cutting-edge trends and concerns with one of the most well-regarded filmmakers of all time. 

The tale follows a teenage gamer who, like millions of others, is hunting for an online Easter egg that would reward him with dominion over Oasis itself. To find it, he has to solve a series of puzzles based on their creator's obsession with late-20th-century pop culture.

The project is on the fast track and intended to be Spielberg's next film, after his Cold War thriller "Bridge of Spies" and his adaptation of Roald Dahl's "The BFG" (speaking of Wonka). Deadline Hollywood first reported the "Player One" news.

Spielberg will direct from a script by Zak Penn ("X-Men: The Last Stand," "Pacific Rim 2") and produce alongside Donald De Line, Dan Farah and Kristie Macosko Krieger. "Ready Player One" would mark his first Warner Bros. film in nearly a decade and a half (though he is also attached to the studio's adaptation of war photographer Lynsey Addario's memoir "It's What I Do").

"We are thrilled to welcome Steven back to Warner Bros.," Greg Silverman, the studio's president of creative development and worldwide production, said in a statement. "We had an historic series of collaborations in the '80s and '90s and have wanted to bring him back for years. As for 'Ready Player One,' we have always felt that Steven was the dream director for this project."

Spielberg's tackling "Ready Player One" comes at a time when the convergence of cinema and virtual reality is widely regarded as a next big thing.

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