In a high six-figure upfront deal, Warner Bros and De Line Pictures won a heated auction for screen rights to Ready Player One, the debut novel by Fanboys screenwriter Ernie Cline. The movie auction occurred hours a day after the book scored a mid six-figure publishing deal from Random House for North American rights. Cline will write the script.
Donald De Line will produce with Dan Farah, who orchestrated the screen sale along with Foundry Literary. De Line worked the negotiations from New Orleans, where he is shooting Green Lantern with Ryan Reynolds and director Martin Campbell. The book had Paramount and Fox chasing it hard, as well as producers that included Twilight’s Temple Hill Entertainment. Buyers sparked to the opportunity to use technology to create a virtual world, and they liked the relatable protagonist. Cline has already made seven-figures for his first book, and if the film gets made, his movie deal alone will be worth seven-figures.
The book focuses on teen Wade Watts, who escapes his bleak surroundings by logging into Oasis, a globally networked utopia where users lead idyllic lives. The game’s eccentric founder dies and offers his billion dollar fortune as the grand prize in an elaborate treasure hunt. Watts competes against rival game players and corporate foes who’ll do anything, in the Oasis world and in the real world to reach the treasure first. Paradigm and Farah Films & Management and attorney Matt Galsor rep Cline. International book rights are now being auctioned.