During a panel discussion at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday, Spielberg said that after reading Ernest Cline’s best-selling novel about a virtual reality-addicted future, his first thought was “They’re going to need a younger director.”
Spielberg was joined onstage by Cline and the film’s stars, Tye Sheridan, Ben Mendelsohn, and T.J. Miller. Fans in Hall H were treated to a trailer for a film that overflowed with shout-outs to several geek staples. The gaming world that “Ready Player One” depicts enables players to interact with characters from pop culture staples from the ’80s and ’90s, such as “The Iron Giant,” “Tron,” “Akira,” “Lord of the Rings,” “Back to the Future,” and “Nightmare on Elm Street,” to name a few.
“When I read Ernie’s book, it was the most amazing flash-forward and flash-back at the same time,” said Spielberg, noting the movie references an entertainment past he helped shape as the most popular director of the Reagan era. It also depicts a dystopian vision of a future in which people are leaving the United States. Virtual reality enables people to escape from their blighted present.
“You can do anything you can possibly imagine,” said Spielberg.
Creating that world took the filmmaker and his team two and a half years to create, he said. Miller joked that the end result is “a little more accurate than ‘The Lawnmower Man.'”
Spielberg was mum about “Ready Player One’s” twists and turns, but he did spill one plot detail that could lead to fan-gasms.
“The Iron Giant is a real major player in this story,” he confirmed.