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X-Men writer Zak Penn to adapt Ready Player One

It’s been four years since Warner Bros. won the bidding war for the movie rights to Ernest Cline’s acclaimed debut novel Ready Player One, but the project appeared to pick up some momentum this week with the news that The Avengers and X2: X-Men United screenwriter Zak Penn will take the latest pass at the film’s script.

The Wrap reports that Penn will revise the script for Ready Player One that was initially penned by Cline himself (who also penned the script for 2009′s Fanboys), and was later rewritten by A Better Life screenwriter Eric Eason. While it’s not unusual for a script to go through multiple writers, Penn has made a name for himself as a writer who gets the script ready to send out to directors, so this could mean the project is ready to advance to the next stage of the development process.

Cline’s debut novel sparked a bidding war among studios before it was even published in 2011, and impressed critics with its sci-fi story steeped in pop-culture nostalgia. The official synopsis of the book 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.

Cline and Penn previously collaborated on a documentary about Atari’s infamous decision to bury unsold cartridges from its failed E.T. game for Atari 2600 in a New Mexico desert, with Penn directing the film and Cline offering up his expertise on ’80s pop culture.