Universal sets sail with ‘Armada’

Studio snags feature film rights to Ernie Cline's novel

Just days after scoring a seven-figure deal for domestic and foreign publishing rights, bestselling author Ernie Cline (“Ready Player One”) has sold feature film rights to his next novel, “Armada,” to Universal, which has set the project up with Scott Stuber’s Bluegrass Films and Dan Farah’s Farah Films banner.

Based on a 20-page proposal, Cline’s reps have already sold North American publishing rights for “Armada” to Crown Publishing, a division of Random House.

Stuber and Farah will produce “Armada,” which features a high-concept hook: the ultimate wish fulfillment to every videogame fan on the planet. Other plot details are being kept under wraps.

Jeff Kirschenbaum and Scott Bernstein will oversee the project for U, while Alexa Faigen will oversee on behalf of Bluegrass Films.

A well-known author and pop culture authority in geek circles, Cline penned “Ready Player One,” which Warner Bros. bought, outbid several other studios for film rights. Warners is currently putting together a movie based on an adaptation by Cline and scribe Eric Eason (“A Better Life”). Book landed on several major best of 2011 lists.

Farah partnered on the high-profile “Armada” project with Stuber, who recently produced Universal’s hit movies “Ted” and “Safe House,” as well as its upcoming releases “47 Ronin” and “Identity Thief.”

Farah is currently developing a remake of “The Crow” at Relativity, “Ready Player One” at Warner Bros., a television series based on Terry Brooks’ bestselling fantasy series “Shannara,” a stage musical based on the Castle Rock comedy “Honeymoon in Vegas” and ABC sitcom “The Guys,” starring Tony Danza. Farah is exec producing “The Guys” with Vince Vaughn.

Farah, Paradigm and Greenberg Glusker negotiated the “Armada” film deal on behalf of Cline, whose publishing deal was negotiated by Farah and book publishing agent Yfat Reiss Gendell of Foundry Literary.

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