‘Ready Player One’: How Zak Penn Wrote the Impossible Steven Spielberg Movie

When screenwriter Zak Penn read galleys in 2011 for Ernest Cline’s “Ready Player One,” he had a thought: “This will never get made.” The sprawling novel was wall to wall with ’80s references, everything from movies “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai,” “Batman” and “Back to the Future” to video games Halo, Minecraft, Tomb Raider, and Dungeons and Dragons.“It was so enormous, the scope was so huge,” Penn said in a phone interview.

“It would cost $250 million.

This guy sucked every interest I have in my brain and put it into a book.

It appealed on a visceral level, but as a job, ‘This isn’t going to happen.’”Two years later, the writer of McU movies like “X-Men: The Last Stand” and “The Avengers” reconsidered.

Penn realized that his nostalgic 2014 documentary “Atari: Game Over” — in which Cline was a subject — was perfect preparation for adapting this cinematic valentine to ’80s pop culture.

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