Friday, March 27, 2015

Film Friday: Spielberg is Ready for Player One

Steven Spielberg made waves at the beginning of the month when he signed on with Jennifer Lawrence to adapt Lynsey Addario's memoir It's What I Do for Warner Bros. This week, WB announced that he'll also helm the adaptation of Ernest Cline's sci-fi novel Ready Player One, which was one of the best books I read last year. A mashup of young adult dystopia, virtual reality, 80's references and Willy Wonka, the book felt cinematic when I was reading it. Spielberg is explicitly mentioned in Cline's book, so it'll be interesting to see him directing a character that is very fond of E.T., Indiana Jones, and other Spielberg films.

When it was announced that Zak Penn was polishing Ready Player One's script, WB apparently wanted a big-name director attached to the project. The fanboy community immediately thought of Christopher Nolan, who is based at the studio and made sci-fi films like Inception and Interstellar plus The Dark Knight trilogy. Deadline said Ready Player One would be Spielberg's next project after he directs the adaptation of Roald Dahl's The BFG. Personally, I was hoping for It's What I Do first over Ready Player One, but I'm excited for both projects.

In a weird twist, the news is both good and bad for sci-fi book fans. Spielberg is notorious for dropping projects (American Sniper and Memoirs of a Geisha were two), but his jumping onto Ready Player One will likely mean the further delay of Robopocalypse, another sci-fi film he was in line to direct. That project, based on the Daniel Wilson book, had a screenplay written by Drew Goddard and even had a release date at one point.

Another literary project likely to be put on hold is Thank You For Your Service, a film version of the David Finkel book about soldiers readjusting to life after a Middle East campaign. The film's screenplay is being written by Jason Hall, who was nominated for an Oscar for adapting American Sniper.

In other news...

• Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne's turn as transgendered artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl, based on the novel by David Ebershoff, will be released Nov. 27 in New York and Los Angeles. The film's release will be in the thicket of Oscar season.

• Steve Martin has signed on for a role in Ang Lee's adaptation of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, which was written by Ben Fountain. Few details are available on Martin's role, but production is set to begin soon. The book is about an Army platoon being feted for heroism during a Dallas Cowboys football game after a firefight in Iraq. The novel earned a number of awards including the National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award and the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize when it debuted in 2012.

• The film rights to Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale, a novel of two sisters in World War II France, were acquired by TriStar, the same studio behind Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. Hannah's book has been on the New York Times bestseller list for six straight weeks and earned rave reviews. While the acquisition of rights does not automatically mean a movie will be made, it shows that there is interest and given Hollywood's penchant for World War II-era stories, I'd bet the book will make the jump to the big screen.

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