There are few book adaptations in development in Hollywood right now with more hype surrounding them than director Steven Spielberg’s upcoming live-action adaptation of Ready Player One. Based on Ernest Cline’s critically-acclaimed 2011 novel of the same name, the film is set to be a sci-fi adventure unlike any other, filled to the brim with pop culture references as it follows its main characters on a dangerous treasure hunt through a popular virtual world, after its creator dies and leaves behind a prize that could change the life of whoever finds it forever. But first, the user will have to work their way through pop culture-driven, video game-like puzzles.
Featuring an impressive ensemble including Tye Sheridan, Ben Mendelsohn, Simon Pegg, T.J. Miller, Olivia Cooke, Mark Rylance, and more, Spielberg has previously said that Ready Player One will be pushing visual effects and motion capture technology in ways that they never have been before. It looks like the filmmaker may be living up to his word there as well.
While recently speaking with Collider, Sheridan – who plays the film’s lead, Wade Owen Watts – talked about what it was like making the film, and revealed just how much of it was actually shot using motion-capture technologies:
“60% of the film takes place in this virtual video game and 40% takes place in the real world. The idea of the film — it’s established that this video game this virtual reality game is much more glamorous than the real world; people have jobs inside of this game which is called the OASIS, people spend their lives inside this video game.
“My character is kind of this loser in the real world, but in this video game the creator of the game dies and leaves behind an easter egg hidden inside of the game that holds his trillions of dollars and control of the game and he says whoever finds it in the game is the person who should take over the OASIS. So five years go by, no one’s found the easter egg and — there are three keys in order to get to the easter egg — he’s the first one to find the first key. So his avatar becomes famous in the video game, where in the real world he’s still kind of this loser, so he’s juggling both.
“We shot for the first seven, eight weeks in Mo-Cap. Everything that happens in The Oasis is all shot in motion capture.”
As for what the film’s take on the Avatars will be too, Sheridan revealed that the one person his Avatar, Parzival, won’t look like is him:
“That’s still kind of a mystery to me. I don’t know what the Avatar looks like, but I’ve heard that it doesn’t look like myself.”
As can be expected with any film directed by Steven Spielberg, it doesn’t sound like Ready Player One is going to be holding back in any way with its special effects and the amount of time it’ll be spending in the OASIS; which should come as welcome news to fans of Cline’s original novel. This news is all the more welcome as there’s been some confusion about how faithful the adaptation is going to be, after Spielberg initially said he was going to be holding back on referencing too much of his own work in the film – despite the fact that his work in the 1980s and ’70s are not only referenced heavily in the Ready Player One novel, but play a large role in the story and setting the tone.
Luckily, thanks to some later comments from others involved in the project, and the few set photos that have leaked online from the production, it seems like the film adaptation is going to be as true, reference-wise at least, to the source material as most fans were hoping for. Spielberg isn’t a rookie to working with motion-capture in his movies either, after having used the technology heavily in such films as The Adventures of Tintin and The BFG. It’s difficult to think of a filmmaker more fitting for this material than Spielberg, for related reasons.
Ready Player One still isn’t set to hit theaters until early next year, meaning that fans may have to wait several more months before any new footage or images are released from it. Nevertheless, it seems fair to say that the film has the potential to be as visually and technologically ambitious as the source material demands it to be.