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Steven Spielberg to helm sci-fi adventure Ready Player One

The upcoming adaptation of Ernie Cline’s hit novel Ready Player One was already a much-anticipated project, but the announcement of the film’s new director may have propelled it to rock star status. The big-screen spin on the international bestselling sci-fi adventure with a Matrix-style twist will be directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Steven Spielberg.

Warner Bros. announced Spielberg’s attachment to the project this week, and indicated that the celebrated filmmaker will both direct and produce the film from an adapted screenplay penned by The Avengers and X2: X-Men United screenwriter Zak Penn.

Related: X-Men writer Zak Penn to adapt Ready Player One

Cline’s debut novel, Ready Player One was praised by critics and readers alike for its compelling sci-fi mystery steeped in pop-culture nostalgia. The novel famously sparked a bidding war among studios before it was even published in 2011.

The synopsis for the story reads as follows:

In the near future, outcast teenager Wade Watts escapes from his bleak surroundings by logging in to the OASIS, a globally networked virtual utopia where users can lead idyllic alternate lives. When the eccentric billionaire who created the OASIS dies, he offers up his vast fortune as the prize in an elaborate treasure hunt. Along with gamers from around the world, Wade joins the adventure, and quickly finds himself pitted against powerful corporate foes and other ruthless competitors who will do anything, in the oasis or the real world, to reach the treasure first.

Spielberg is expected to begin work on Ready Player One after he’s finished with the upcoming thriller Bridge of Spies and his adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel The BFG.

“We are thrilled to welcome Steven back to Warner Bros,” said WB’s President of Creative Development and Worldwide Production, Greg Silverman, in a statement accompanying the announcement. “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.”

There’s currently no release date set for the film.