An ‘Oasis’ of Spielberg in 2015
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An ‘Oasis’ of Spielberg in 2015

Two ‘event films’ on the slate from the three-time Academy Award-winning director

Steven Spielberg is photographed at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, on Jan. 18, 2014 in Park City, Utah (AP/Danny Moloshok/Invision)
Steven Spielberg is photographed at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, on Jan. 18, 2014 in Park City, Utah (AP/Danny Moloshok/Invision)

It’s ready, set… and wait for Steven Spielberg’s much anticipated “Ready Player One.” The three-time Academy Award-winning director’s sci-fi gamer pic has been scheduled for a winter release mid-December 2017.

In a press release, Dan Fellman, Warner Bros. President of Domestic Distribution, said, “Any film from Steven Spielberg is an event film, so it felt right to date this thrilling new project from one of our greatest filmmakers for the holiday season.”

The film is based on Ernest Cline’s riveting futuristic novel, a worldwide phenomenon. The young adult title was published in 2011.

Set just a few decades from now, in 2044, the humans inhabiting a very grim planet Earth now value a virtual reality above their bricks-and-mortar reality. One lucky guy dreams of discovering the ultimate virtual prize inside this extensive networked playground. This lottery ticket, hidden inside a series of puzzles based on 20th century pop culture trivia, could turn his world inside-out.

Zak Penn adapted this story of the alternative universe Oasis for the film. The virtual locale’s moniker hints at the tale’s sinister underpinnings.

Whoopi Goldberg in 'The Color Purple.' (courtesy Warner Bros.)
Whoopi Goldberg in ‘The Color Purple.’ (courtesy Warner Bros.)

The project marks Spielberg’s return to Warner Bros. after a 14 year absence. In 1987, he directed “Empire of the Sun,” in 1985, “The Color Purple” and in 2001, “A.I. Artificial Intelligence.” In the mid-80s, he produced the hits “Gremlins” and “The Goonies.”

“We are thrilled to welcome Steven back to Warner Bros,” Greg Silverman, the studio’s President of Creative Development and Worldwide Production, told Deadline.com. “We had an historic series of collaborations in the 1980s and 1990s and have wanted to bring him back for years.”

In an announcement, Sue Kroll, Warner Bros. president for Worldwide Marketing and Distribution, said “From the success of the book, ‘Ready Player One’ already has a devoted following, and we’re excited for its fans and moviegoers everywhere to see this fantastically innovative story come to life. We know it couldn’t be in better hands, and look forward to working with Steven and the producers to bring it to the big screen.”

That team includes Donald De Line of De Line Pictures, Dan Farah, with whom De Line brought the project to the studio, and Spielberg’s longtime colleague Kristie Macosko Krieger. Bruce Berman serves as executive producer.

Meanwhile, Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies,” debuts mid-October. Based on a Coen brothers script inspired by true events, the film stars Tom Hanks who plays an attorney charged with negotiating a prisoner swap between the US and Russia during the Cold War.

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