Ernest Cline is becoming the next Hollywood franchise author. The sci-fi novelist behind Ready Player One, which Steven Spielberg will helm for Warner Bros, just made another whopping deal with Crown Publishing (a division of Penguin Random House) which we’re hearing is a mid seven-figure pact for his next yarn — and that’s for U.S. rights only. This is Cline’s third book (after this summer’s Armada) and likely will be the third on its way to the big screen as this week they will open up conversations to sell film rights. The untitled story is being kept under wraps, but it is yet another sci-fi project from the fledgling author who has gained traction since Spielberg signed on to direct Ready Player One in May.
Ready Player One — which is being produced by Spielberg, Donald DeLine, Dan Farah, Kristie Macosko Kreiger, and Village Roadshow (who is also co-financing) — takes place in 2044 and follows the story of a virtual-reality game creator who offers up his entire company to the best player who can find an Easter egg in one of his many virtual worlds via a game called OASIS. The key to winning the game (and become the worthy heir) is a plethora of pop culture clues from the 1980s. Spielberg’s films are mentioned in the book.
The news also comes only a week after Warner Brothers pegged a December 15, 2017, release date for Ready Player One. Cline’s second sci-fi novel, Armada, which debuted at No. 4 on The New York Times best-sellers list for fiction, originally sold as a pitch in a seven-figure deal to Crown and then subsequently sold the feature rights to Universal for another seven figures. It’s being developed for the big screen with former Uni exec Scott Stuber and his Bluegrass Films along with Farah Films; Cline is serving as co-producer.
Published last month, Armada also bowed to No. 4 on the National Indie Bookseller’s list and has been named Amazon’s Best of the Month in the Science, Fiction & Fantasy category, Amazon’s Best of the Month in the Mystery, Thriller & Suspense category, Apple’s Book-of-the-Month pick, Audible’s Book-of-the Month pick, Mashable’s Book Club pick, Indie Next Pick of the month (August), and Reddit’s Book Club Inaugural Pick. Whew!
Cline’s publishing rights are represented by his longtime manager Farah and Foundry Literary + Media’s Yfat Reiss Gendell. Cline’s film/TV rights/screenwriting is represented by CAA and Farah, who will also produce the new, untitled sci-fi project.