Director Steven Spielberg is a busy man of late. His historical drama Bridge of Spies is up for a number of Oscars this year (including Best Picture), his adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel The BFG hits theaters in July 2016, and he's starting work on Ready Player One, a sci-fi film based on the book of the same name by Ernest Cline. Casting is underway for Ready Player One, with names such as Olivia Cooke and Ben Mendelsohn reportedly on board.
Warner Bros. had initially pegged the movie for release on December 15, 2017. But that was well before Lucasfilm moved Star Wars: Episode VIII to that date in an effort to replicate the record breaking success of 2015's The Force Awakens. As expected, WB has now shifted the premiere of Ready Player One so it doesn't have to go up against the next adventure in a galaxy far, far away.
Borys Kit of THR broke the news, revealing that Spielberg's latest will be released in March 2018:
Steven Spielberg's READY PLAYER ONE backs down from STAR WARS EPISODE VII, moves from Dec. 15, 2017 to March 30, 2018.
— Borys Kit (@Borys_Kit) February 9, 2016
Ready Player One will now go up against Universal's Wolf Man reboot, which should be a far more advantageous matchup for it, box office wise. These days, there isn't much that can contend with the commercial prowess of Star Wars. Even James Cameron avoided Episode VIII, shifting Avatar 2 from its intended (but never confirmed) Christmas 2017 release. The move also impacts WB's The Flash solo film, which was originally scheduled to debut on March 23, 2018. The studio announced that the comic book movie will now bow on March 16, 2018, creating some breathing room between the two projects.
While The Flash is largely unaffected by the change, it is a huge benefit to Ready Player One. Currently, spring 2018 does not have many high-profile releases slated, meaning Spielberg's flick should have a healthy commercial run if it becomes a hit with audiences. In recent years, the spring season has proven to be fertile ground for blockbuster pictures such as the first Hunger Games and Furious 7, providing separation from the glut of summer movies that populate the multiplex from May to August. Being the only big film in town has its perks and can maximize profits for the studio.
It's no surprise that WB wants to put Ready Player One in a place where it can succeed. Spielberg described it as a "big rockin' adventure movie," a phrase that could aptly describe some of the biggest hits in his career. Seeing the legendary filmmaker return to his roots with a fun story that mixes style and substance (virtual reality vs. real world) is a tantalizing prospect for movie buffs, especially those who are fond of the director's filmography. Considering how well-received the source material is, there should be a great deal of interest in watching Spielberg's take on the narrative, encouraging WB to move the film to a time when the marketplace isn't as competitive.
All in all, the change of release date is a vote of confidence in Ready Player One by WB. They feel like they have an old school Spielberg smash on their hands and want as many people as possible to see it. Getting lost in the hullabaloo of a new Star Wars film would be a recipe for failure, but now Ready Player One will have its own moment to shine. It may be disappointing for Spielberg fans that they have to wait a little longer for the film, but it should work out in the end.
Ready Player One will hit theaters March 30, 2018.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice opens on March 25, 2016, which is followed by Suicide Squad on August 5, 2016; Wonder Woman on June 23, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17, 2017; The Flash on March 16, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and then Green Lantern Corps. on June 19, 2020.
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