Steven Spielberg's nostalgia-filled sci-fi epic Ready Player One is packed full of references to many of pop culture's most iconic franchises, save for maybe the most well-known property of all time: Star Wars. Turns out, there's a good reason for that, and it was entirely out of Spielberg's control.
The film adaptation of Ernest Cline's novel of the same name follows Wade Watts on his journey to win ownership of the OASIS - a Matrix-like internet-based simulation that allows people to live out their wildest (usually TV and film-based) fantasies in virtual reality - has already inspired fans to pour through trailers and posters in search of easter eggs and references. Superman, Back to the Future, The Lost Boys, The Breakfast Club, and plenty more have all been referenced in the advertising campaign for Ready Player One so far. Cline's 2011 novel included pop culture references woven into its dystopian tale, including nods to WarGames, Dune, Ghostbusters, and the band Rush, amongst many, many others.
Related: Ready Player One Final Trailer
Screen Rant attended the Ready Player One press conference, where Steven Spielberg revealed some of the properties that they couldn't get the rights to, such as Star Wars. "We couldn’t get any Star Wars rights ... They wouldn’t give up the Star Wars rights." At that point, Ben Mendelsohn joked that Spielberg could've asked him for help getting the rights, since he starred in Gareth Edwards' Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. "You could’ve called me on that one, Steve. I built the Death Star, I’m just saying."
UPDATE: Spielberg has now clarified to Fandango that although Ready Player One doesn't reference the modern Star Wars movies produced by Disney and Lucasfilm, it does include Easter Eggs for the older films in the series (see the video below). The rest of this article has been left as it was originally published.
EXCLUSIVE: Contrary to reports spreading now, Disney did let Steven Spielberg use #StarWars in #ReadyPlayerOne. Here, Spielberg explains to me how they snagged IP rights from all the studios and what STAR WARS Easter Eggs to look for in the new film, in theaters 3/29 pic.twitter.com/LslVQP1iCv
— ErikDavis (@ErikDavis) March 16, 2018
Spielberg and producer Kristie Macosko Krieger worked for years to obtain the rights to the franchises that do turn up in the film but were constantly shut out by the Mouse House, which is interesting because Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy co-founded Amblin Entertainment with Spielberg, and Spielberg even had a financial stake in George Lucas' original Star Wars film. If Spielberg couldn't get the rights to Star Wars for his film, no one can. Who knows, maybe things would've been different if Disney didn't own Lucasfilm.
Spielberg also revealed that there were a few properties other than Star Wars that he and Krieger were unable to procure for the film. Spielberg added: "Kristie spent 3 years with all of the Warner Bros legal people getting the rights to all of them – and we couldn’t get all of them," such as Ultraman and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which, ironically, was directed by Spielberg. Of course, there's always the possibility of a sequel (Cline is currently writing Ready Player One's sequel novel), at which point Disney may be more willing to participate; time will have to tell.
Ready Player One received a lot of unnecessary backlash thanks to the very nostalgia that has been driving fans to seek out these references and easter eggs hiding in its advertising campaign. Some critics have blasted Cline's novel - and the film, by extension - for being more hack than homage. Despite all the negativity so early before the film's official theater release, Ready Player One's early reactions have been quite positive thus far. Hopefully, the turn in public opinion will sway moviegoers when Ready Player One premieres in theaters two weeks from now.
Update Source: Fandango
- Ready Player One (2018) release date: Mar 29, 2018