Why Steven Spielberg Made It Easy For Ready Player One To Make Its Pop Culture References

Ready Player One delorean

If you know anything about Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One, it's probably the fact that it's a massive love letter to pop culture. The movie is packed with Easter eggs and nods to classic pieces of intellectual property, which raises questions of how Zak Penn figured out which references he could include in his screenplay. CinemaBlend asked Penn about that during the film's recent press day, and he noted that, while he wasn't sure what he would be able to use in the project, the presence of Steven Spielberg behind the camera made it easy to get most of what they wanted. Penn explained:

The first draft I wrote I had no idea. Once Steven came on, which was after they sent him my script and he signed on pretty quickly. So once Steven came on it was like 'Steven Spielberg's on it now.' There was a team of people working on it and producers and people at the studio, but you knew if it could be gotten Steven would get it. So, there are a couple of things that he couldn't get because they were in lawsuits or something. Like Ultraman, there was some sort of lawsuit going on. Short of that, anything he wanted.

Steven Spielberg is one of the biggest names in Hollywood, and his name has become synonymous with blockbuster filmmaking over the course of his lengthy career. The Spielberg brand carries weight with it, and it made the Raiders of the Lost Ark director a capable collaborator in the quest to acquire all of the pieces of content necessary to put this story together.

That's not to say that certain things couldn't be acquired in the development of Ready Player One's world and narrative. As pointed out by Zak Penn in his remarks to CinemaBlend, Ultraman (who plays a significant role in Ernest Cline's original book) couldn't be used, which forced them to go back to the drawing board and rework the story. However, an instance like that was more of an exception than a rule, and Spielberg was pretty much able to get anything and everything.

In the end, Zak Penn finished off his remarks with CinemaBlend by emphasizing the fact that most people generally seemed excited about the prospect of having their pieces of intellectual property used in a movie directed by Steven Spielberg. Penn concluded:

Often people are like 'are you kidding? Do I want to be in a Steven Spielberg movie? Sure!'

All of those pop culture references and Easter eggs will come together tomorrow when Ready Player One debuts in theaters. Make sure to take a look at CinemaBlend's full review of the film, as well as our comprehensive review roundup, and let us know what you think of the movie once you've had a chance to see it for yourself!

Conner Schwerdtfeger

Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.