Ernest Cline's novel Ready Player One is chock full of tributes to the geek culture of the late 20th century, especially its movies and video games. And it turns out that the movie version will be helmed by a man who has inspired incredible amounts 1980s and 1990s nostalgia all on his own: Steven Spielberg.
Deadline is reporting that Spielberg has signed to direct the movie, set in a crapsack future where most young people spend their time plugged into a virtual world known as OASIS. The book follows Wade Watts, a teenager who is competing in a virtual Easter Egg hunt launched by OASIS' creator, James Halliday. Whoever wins the hunt will inherit Halliday's vast estate and control of OASIS. Watts and his friends are trying to find the egg before other hunters do — including those funding by a multination corporation.
Spielberg is an interesting choice to direct, simply because he created so much of the media that fits into Ready Player One's wheelhouse. Deadline notes that one of the interest filmmaking challenges will be dealing with the sheer amount of licensed content that appears in the book, including the video game Joust and the movie The Last Starfighter. Could we end up seeing some of Spielberg's own movies in the film adaptation of Ready Player One? How might Spielberg portray a world that's nostalgic for the very movies he directed? And how will he portray a movie set in 2044, where the real world is dystopian but the virtual world is obsessed with the eras Spielberg has so lovingly captured on film?
While we love Ready Player One, we've long wondered how well the book will translate to film. A lot of its enjoyment depends on an affection for the pop culture it references, and some scenes that are thrilling in the book could fall flat in a movie. But we're much more intrigued by this movie now that Spielberg is on board. Sure, it could end up being too much a case of the pop culture snake eating its own tale. It could tip the scales from enjoyably nostalgic to sickeningly so. But if this story is in any filmmaker's wheelhouse, it's Spielberg's.