Any time Steven Spielberg directs a movie it's a big deal. Any time a best-selling, fan-favorite novel gets a big screen adaptation, it's a big deal. When the two happen to combine, as they will for 2018's cinematic translation of Ernest Cline's pop culture saturated book Ready Player One, you guessed it, it's a big deal.
The Ready Player One movie is almost here, but it's been in development for years---even before Ernest Cline's novel hit bookstores in 2011, it already had a movie deal in place. Building up towards production, Steven Spielberg and company have been putting the pieces for the Ready Player One cast in place, and as we do with many major upcoming releases, we thought we'd take the opportunity run through everything we know so far about the project. Let's start with the most recent trailer for the film, which you can check out below!
Wow! If that view of the world Steven Spielberg has built for Ready Player One doesn't get you excited, then nothing will. OK, let's dive in to the details we have about the upcoming film!
Ready Player One's Release Date
In what was probably a very smart business move, the Ready Player One movie recently swapped out its release date. Why was this a smart move, you ask? Ready Player One is based on a popular book with a built in audience, along with one of the most revered modern directors, Steven Spielberg, at the helm---it has a lot going for it, right? Well, it was originally slated to open on December 15, 2017, but it has since been moved to March 30, 2018.
The December 2017 date was all well and good, until a little movie called Star Wars: The Last Jedi switched up its release date, and, wouldn't you know, the folks at Disney decided to open the next entry in the Star Wars saga on December 15, 2017. After the record breaking juggernaut that was Star Wars: The Force Awakens, even Steven Spielberg didn't want to mess with that far, far away galaxy, and the Ready Player One movie was pushed back and will now open in March 2018, where it won't have to go toe-to-toe with anything Star Wars related.
What Is Ready Player One Rated?
As we're still fairly early in the process, there's not much concrete news on the rating of the Ready Player One movie. Using what we know, however, we can make a relatively educated guess. With a few exceptions, Steven Spielberg doesn't usually stray into R-rated territory, at least outside of war movies like Saving Private Ryan, and weighty dramas like Schindler's List.
In addition to that, the Ready Player One book, while full of adventure and harrowing situations, never strays too far into more adult realms. The protagonist is fairly young, there's not much violence or sex to speak of---certainly nothing that can't be easily circumvented---and all in all, the subject matter is rather tame in the ways that might earn a movie a more restrictive rating. With all of this in mind, we guess the Ready Player One rating will be PG-13, but it's possible it'll get a PG rating. Maybe they'll let a curse word or two slip just to make sure it's not too wholesome.
What Is Ready Player One About?
Ready Player One takes place in the dystopian future of 2044. The world is an ugly, nasty, overcrowded place where most people live in "stacks," which are literally mobile homes piled on top of one another to near skyscraper heights. In this dismal setting, much of the population escapes into an expansive virtual reality world called OASIS, where people do everything from go to school, work, and even just hang out with friends in virtual basements on virtual couches.
When he died with no heirs, James Halliday, the creator of OASIS, revealed a massive pop-culture saturated puzzle, a kind of sprawling scavenger hunt. Whoever solves this riddle and finds Halliday's Easter Egg becomes the owner of OASIS and is immediately the richest, most powerful person on the planet. So, of course, everyone wants to be the winner, and these people are called "gunters," short for Egg hunters. This group includes the protagonist, Wade Watts, a poor kid from the Stacks, and the plot of the Ready Player One book follows his quest as he searches for the Easter Egg and clues, and the Ready Player One movie follows the same arc.
There are a number of elements that make a Ready Player One movie a difficult feat to accomplish. First, nearly every paragraph is saturated with references to films, comics, toys, TV shows, video games, and every facet of pop culture you can imagine. This means there are hundreds, if not thousands, of rights issues to clear. Second, much of the action of the Ready Player One book takes place in the virtual realm of OASIS, where characters control self-ascribed avatars.
With these hurdles to overcome, it's good that the Ready Player One movie is in the competent hands of a director like Steven Spielberg. With a resume that includes some of the biggest movies of all time, he'll have no problem working on this scope and scale. This is also far from his first science fiction rodeo, as he has shepherded a number of fantastic worlds to the big screen, including the likes of Jurassic Park, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, and The Adventures of Tintin, among others. There's also that little movie called E.T.
One of the earliest choices Steven Spielberg made about the Ready Player One movie was to remove references to his own work, of which there are many. But as difficult as this book may be to adapt, and how closely the rabid fan base will be watching, this isn't the first time that Spielberg has been behind adapting a beloved work to movie theaters. In fact, he recently gave fans a big screen version of Roald Dahl's The BFG. While Spielberg may not be including references to his own work in Ready Player One, all connections to the director will not be omitted. Steven Spielberg did confirm that we'll see Wade's Delorean in the movie. The iconic car was featured in the Spielberg-produced Back to the Future, and, as you can see from the trailer, it plays a notable role in Wade's adventure in Ready Player One.
Ready Player One's Writers
Another thing the Ready Player One movie adaptation has going for it is that one of the people adapting the novel for the screen is none other than Ernest Cline, the author of the Ready Player One book. If there's anyone who will take great care with the translation from the page to the screen, it's going to be the guy who ushered this world into being in the first place. So, even if there are changes made from the source material, those changes will be made by the man behind all of this in the first place.
While Ernest Cline is relatively young when it comes to screenwriting---his only other credit is the similarly pop culture obsessed comedy Fanboys---he'll have help in writing the Ready Player One movie. Zak Penn will be along for this particular ride, and with credits that include comic book movies like The Avengers, The Incredible Hulk, and a variety of X-Men movies, as well as an upcoming turn working on the script for Suicide Squad 2, he certainly has the geeky credentials to help bring the Ready Player One movie to vibrant life.
Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan)
The protagonist of the Ready Player One book, as well as Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One movie, is Wade Owen Watts. Wade is a poor kid from the Stacks of Oklahoma City, but he's whip smart, and because his home sucks and the outside world is all kinds of dreary, he spends most of his time in OASIS. He goes to school and hangs out with his online buddies, but must of his efforts go into guiding his OASIS avatar, Parzival---named for Percival from Arthurian legend---in a search for clues to find James Halliday's Easter Egg. This is really a pipe dream, as everyone else, including wealthy multinational companies, has been scouring OASIS and searching movies, comics, and more for hints for years with no success. But once Wade cracks a clue, it sets off a domino effect, where new discoveries, and stiff competition, come fast and furious until someone might just solve the riddle and win OASIS.
As Wade Watts is the main character of the book and, subsequently, the Ready Player One movie, it's a big, vital role, but Steven Spielberg and company found a strong actor to fill the part: Tye Sheridan. At just 21-years-old, Sheridan has already assembled in impressive resume with a number of strong, eye-catching roles in notable indie films and beyond. When your first role is in a Terrence Malick film, The Tree of Life in this case, people are going to pay attention, but he also turned heads in David Gordon Green's Joe, Jeff Nichols' Mud, and the true-life drama The Stanford Prison Experiment. He even dipped his toe in the horror-comedy pool recently with Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse. However, it is his more recent role that will bring him, by far, the most notice, as he took over the superhero role of Cyclops in X-Men: Apocalypse. By the time the Ready Player One movie roles around, he might pack some additional star power.
Art3mis (Olivia Cooke)
Wade Watts is far from alone on his journey in Ready Player One. He has a number of friends, associates, and well-wishers who lend him a helping hand along the way, but none are as important as Art3mis. The OASIS avatar alter ego of Samantha Evelyn Cook, Art3mis is another famous gunter, one that Wade also happens to have a major cyber crush on, which complicates things as they're in direct competition. Throughout the course of the narrative of Ready Player One, Art3mis is by turns a rival, a partner in crime, an ally, and a love interest for Wade. Again, due to the online nature of much of their relationship---Art3mis is from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, while Wade starts out in Oklahoma City---it will be interesting to see how their relationship develops and is portrayed in the Ready Player One movie.
One of the things that was revealed about the plot of the film a few months ago is that Wade and Samantha will actually meet in real life during the course of the movie. This was quite a surprise, as the two characters don't meet up outside of the OASIS in the book until the very end of the story. So, unless the photo that was released of the two together is a dream sequence or from the last few shots in the movie, it seems that Spielberg and the writers have decided to have them spend more time with each other in the depressing real world of Ready Player One.
As Art3mis is one of the key characters in the Ready Player One book, it's a rather important role to cast in the film. And, as with casting Wade, Steven Spielberg and company went with another young up and comer, British actress Olivia Cooke---who was actually cast before Tye Sheridan was cast as Wade. Similar to her co-star, Cooke has put together a stellar list of acting credits at just 25-years-old. Getting her start on British television in 2012 with Blackout and The Secret of Crikey Hall (and a One Direction video), Cooke is probably best known for her run on the Psycho prequel series, Bates Motel, which wrapped up in 2017. She also recently starred in the low-budget horror flick Ouija, the well-received indie dramedy Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and has a few other films on the way in 2018.
Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn)
Every good story needs a villain, and Ready Player One has one in the form of Nolan Sorrento. Not only does Wade Watts have to contend with other individual Egg-obsessed gunters nipping at his heels every step of the way, a number of groups and companies are after the prize as well. The biggest of these is Innovative Online Industries, a multinational corporation which wants OASIS because, simply, it's the most valuable commodity on the planet and would instantly make them the most powerful entity to ever exist. While James Halliday wanted OASIS to be for the people, IOI would use it to make all of the money. A high-ranking official with IOI, Nolan Sorrento is the head of their Oology division, the sector charged with searching for the Egg. He's a scheming company stooge and is the primary antagonist of Ready Player One, serving as the embodiment of corporate greed. Although, some comments from the actor playing Sorrento seem to suggest that there may be some changes to the character for the purposes of the movie.
To play the role of Nolan Sorrento and bring the villain to life, Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One found a wonderful actor in the person of Ben Mendelsohn. The 47-year-old Australian character actor has been around since the mid-1980s, delivering memorable performances, but things really kicked into high gear with 2010's crime saga Animal Kingdom. From there, he's delivered knock out performances in the likes of Killing Them Softly, The Place Beyond the Pines, and Mississippi Grind, which all led to a major part in Star Wars: Rogue One in 2016, where he played a key villain. If you've watched Netflix's series Bloodline, which you really should if you haven't, he brings an ominous air and a level of menace, even when his character appears to be playing nice, and this trait will serve him well in bringing Nolan Sorrento to the big screen in Ready Player One.
Ogden Morrow (Simon Pegg)
Creating an expansive, always evolving virtual world like OASIS is a herculean task, and in Ready Player One, James Halliday didn't undertake it alone. He enlisted the help of his friend and compatriot Ogden Morrow. Morrow's relationship and story with Halliday has many parallels to that of Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs. Because of his stake in the company, Morrow is one of the richest people in the world of 2044, though he has retreated into seclusion on his rural Oregon estate. He's a good man, with a kind heart, and using his avatar alter ego, The Great and Powerful Og, he plays in important role, though not a huge foreground one, in the journey of Wade Watts and the others in Ready Player One.
As mentioned many times elsewhere, Ready Player One is a book saturated with pop culture and nerdy references of all kinds, and the Ready Player One movie will be the same in that regard. Given that, the film found the perfect actor to fill the role of Ogden Morrow: Simon Pegg. The Star Trek Beyond and Shaun of the Dead star is well known for his penchant for all things geeky, and it only makes sense that he'd be attracted to a story like that of Ready Player One. Ogden Morrow is also very friendly, engaging character---kind of a wing-nut hermit---described as a mix between Albert Einstein and Santa Claus. Pegg has an inherently likable quality as an actor that will serve him well in this role, and it's easy to imagine him having an absolute blast with this part.
Other cast additions to Ready Player One includes one of Steven Spielberg's go-to actors, Mark Rylance, who will play none other than James Halliday himself in the movie. Rylance's recent collaboration with Spielberg was The BFG, and he also starred in Bridge of Spies. Given how closely he's worked with Steven Spielberg, it's no surprise that he would come on board RPO in such a crucial role.
Meanwhile, former Silicon Valley star T.J. Miller was among the late cast additions for Ready Player One, signing on for the trolling role of i-R0k in the film. Given Miller's keen ability to provide comic relief (see his moments of hilarity in Deadpool for recent evidence of that), it should be interesting to see what he brings to RPO. According to Miller, the part has been beefed up from the book, where i-R0k was a very minor player, and he's now a bounty hunter who will take out OASIS players for the right price. Miller has described this new version of the character as a funny Boba Fett, which will certainly be wild to watch once the film opens.
Lined up to play the Gunter known as Daito in RPO is Japanese musician Win Morisaki. He's best known for being the lead vocalist in the boy band PrizmaX.
Game of Thrones actress Hannah John-Kamen has also joined the Ready Player One cast, though her role has not been revealed.