SPOILERS For Ready Player One Ahead.
Ready Player One screenwriter Zak Penn has explained how his first movie inspired the surprise homage to The Shining. Ready Player One is a movie steeped in pop culture references, with nods to everything from Mortal Kombat to Batman and Halo. Some of these Easter Eggs are obvious, but some are buried deep in the background for audiences to find on subsequent viewings.
One of the less obvious nods goes to Last Action Hero, a 1993 Arnold Schwarzenegger star vehicle. The movie was a meta-parody of the action genre, but despite heavy marketing and promotion, the film lost out to Jurassic Park at the box office. Nevertheless, Last Action Hero has become something of a cult item, and one that Ready Player One author Ernest Cline is fond of. He snuck a reference to Last Action Hero into the movie, with the heroes passing a cinema showing Jack Slater III, a sequel in Schwarzenegger's fictional cop series.
Now Penn has explained in an interview with Cinema Blend how Last Action Hero inspired a key scene in Ready Player One, where main character Wade visits a recreation of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. This scene is unique to the movie, as the second challenge in the book required Wade having to quote all of WarGames from memory, but Penn suggested getting to act out an adventure within a famous movie would be a more cinematic approach:
In the book, it's more like a karaoke thing that you do, and Ernie's a big fan of Last Action Hero. One of the big changes was you walk through and have to repeat the lines from the movie, I said 'No, let's do Last Action Hero. Let's throw you into the movie!' Wouldn't it be better, no matter what movie it is, if there was an adventure in the movie? Ernie was like 'Totally. Absolutely.'
It turns out The Shining wasn't the first choice, with Penn admitting the first draft of the sequence revolved around Blade Runner instead. The Shining scene in Ready Player One is a loving homage to a classic horror movie, recreating and playing with the movie's many iconic moments in a fun way, including the famous elevator of blood and a visit to Room 237.
Spielberg was also good friends with Stanley Kubrick in real life, with the pair first meeting on the set of The Shining; in fact, once the sets for Kubrick's movie were torn down, they were replaced with sets for Raiders of the Lost Ark. So, in addition to Ready Player One paying tribute to a classic movie, it also acts as a tribute to Spielberg's late friend.
Source: Cinema Blend
- Ready Player One (2018) release date: Mar 29, 2018