Ready Player One started life as a hit sci-fi novel by Ernest Cline, one as obsessed with nostalgia about the past as it was looking forward to the future. Now it’s about to reach a whole new audience as it reaches the big screen courtesy of a new film adaptation from none other than Steven Spielberg.
With the release of the film fast approaching, we’ve gathered up all the info you need about the film’s cast, story, and release date, along with the latest trailers and posters. For info on other big releases, check out our guide to 2018’s best new films.
We’ve already seen the film, so if you want to find out what we thought head straight to our Ready Player One review. Otherwise, read on to find out what to expect.
Ready Player One hits both UK and US cinemas on 29 March 2018.
US readers should keep an eye on Fandango to book tickets for the earliest screenings, while UK readers should head to their cinema chain of choice: Cineworld, Odeon, or Vue.
Meanwhile, if you haven’t already you’ve got a little bit of time left to get hold of the original Ready Player One novel and read it ahead of the film’s release to make sure you’re ready.
Cast and crew
The film’s big star is Tye Sheridan, best known so far as the young Cyclops in the recent spate of X-Men movies. There’ll be plenty of familiar faces around him though, with appearances from Ben Mendelsohn, Mark Rylance, Simon Pegg, T.J. Miller and more.
That cast is no surprise when you think about who’s behind the camera: Steven Spielberg, making his first proper sci-fi film since War of the Worlds in 2005 (no, the aliens in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull don’t count).
As for the script, that’s a collaboration between Ernest Cline, the book’s original author, and Zak Penn, a prolific blockbuster writer who’s had a hand in the likes of The Avengers, X-Men 2, and, uh, Elektra. It would be fair to say his track record is mixed.
Check out the poster
There have been two main posters for Ready Player One so far, and be warned: the first is a bit silly. It was savaged on social media for some of the worst leg-based photo manipulation we’ve ever seen, unless Tye Sheridan has just been hiding a serious deformity during his career so far:
A second official poster for the film was unveiled in February 2018, and this one takes a very different tone. Much like the film itself, it’s jam-packed with ’80s references, from a design evoking classic Star Wars posters through to nods to Back to the Future, The Iron Giant, and more.
The latest posters are even more reference-packed. The studio released a set of twelve posters, each taking the player avatars from the film and inserting them into classic movie posters from over the years, from Back to the Future and The Matrix to Labyrinth and The Goonies. Naturally, opinions are already split over whether it’s a neat marketing stunt or a lazy cash-in. You can take a look at one right here, or head to Slash Film to check out the full set.
Thanks to Empire we also have a couple of photos giving us a better look at two elements of the film we haven’t seen much of before. The first, a behind-the-scenes shot featuring Spielberg himself, gives us a good look at Ben Mendelsohn’s villain Nolan Sorrento in his rather impressive VR setup:
The second gives us something we haven’t seen at all yet: Mark Rylance and Simon Pegg in shaggy nerdy attire as the creators of the Oasis, in a shot that’s presumably either flashback or prologue:
Watch the trailers
So far there have been two proper trailers for Ready Player One. The first was the teaser trailer from San Diego Comic-Con 2017, which you can watch right here:
More recently, Warner Bros. released the first ‘official’ trailer for the film, which you can watch at the top of this page or right here:
Then we got the ‘Come With Me’ trailer, which riffs on the ‘Pure Imagination’ song from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory to deliver the first trailer that really feels like a Spielberg film, with a much bigger emphasis on the stakes of the conflict – not that there isn’t a healthy heap of nostalgia thrown in too.
There’s one final trailer before the film’s release, dubbed ‘Dreamer’. This goes even further towards making the film look like a classic Spielberg adventure – the references are left firmly in the backseat, with the full focus on the film’s worldbuilding and central quest. It’s also the first trailer to feature some glowing quotes from a few critics who got the chance to see the film early.
What’s the story?
In case you haven’t heard about the book, Ready Player One is set in a slightly decrepit future where just about everything is obsessed with the virtual reality world of the Oasis.
When the creator of the tech dies, he releases a video revealing that he’s hidden an Easter Egg inside the virtual world, and whoever finds it first will get his fortune. Naturally that’s where our hero, the young Wade Watts, fits in, as he joins the race to sort through the clues and find the prize – ahead of some slightly sinister corporate interests.
That’s all fun enough, but what made Ready Player One such a huge hit in the first place is the decision to have the hunt built around an obsession with ’80s nostalgia, so the book (and thus film) is packed with references to movies, comics, and videogames of the era, so expect to see an awful lot of familiar faces make appearances – imagine Wreck-It-Ralph’s videogame scenes on steroids.