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Warning: massive spoilers ahead for Ready Player One! Read ahead at your own risk!
Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One makes some pretty substantial changes to Ernest Cline's original book of the same name. Having said that, one of the significant changes made to the story is the use of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining as the challenge for the jade key instead of WarGames. It's a fun change that few fans may see coming, and as screenwriter Zak Penn told CinemaBlend during a recent interview, the move also stemmed from a desire to have our heroes enter the world of a movie in the vein of Last Action Hero, rather than merely act out a film. Penn explained:
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.'
For those of you who have not read the book, Ready Player One's jade key sequence has Wade Watts (played by X-Men's Tye Sheridan in the film) act out the entirety of WarGames from memory like a movie-oriented version of karaoke. In the Ready Player One movie, the jade key sequence throws Wade and his friends into the Overlook Hotel from The Shining and allows them to explore and exist within that ecosystem without forcing them to play out specific scenes beat-for-beat. Per Penn, this was a way to move away from the karaoke style of the book and do something like the Arnold Schwarzenegger cult classic, Last Action Hero -- a film largely predicated on the idea of outsiders entering the world of fictional films.
If you're looking for a more in-depth look at Last Action Hero to see how its premise lines up with Ready Player One's use of The Shining, then check out the cult classic action flick's trailer, below!
Of course, the decision to use The Shining also marks a change from the book -- which has Wade (as his avatar, Parzival) act out WarGames instead of Stanley Kubrick's horror classic. Continuing his interview with CinemaBlend, Zak Penn addressed the use of The Shining and admitted that they initially intended to use a Ridley Scott classic for the jade key scene. Penn explained:
The first draft, it was actually Blade Runner.
This version of the scene actually would've brought the film a bit more in-line with the book, which used the Blade Runner Voight-Kampff test as a way to open the pathway to another of the story's challenges. Alas, with the development of Blade Runner 2049, Ready Player One decided not to use Blade Runner, and they moved on to the classic Stephen King adaptation instead. The result? An absolute show-stopper of a scene.