Ready Player One was always meant to be a movie. With a plot that centers on millenial nostalgia for early ’90s video games, movies, and television shows, and a thoroughly likable group of characters, Ready Player One has been on many science-fiction fans’ most anticipated movie list since the movie rights were optioned. And on Friday, screenwriter Zak Penn posted on Twitter that production on the Steven Spielberg-led film adaptation had finally begun.
Last week, we took note of a new business venture called Screening Room spearheaded by Napster founder Sean Parker. The proposed service would digitally stream the latest major-studio theatrical releases into the confines of private American homes for a hefty estimated fee of $50 on the same day as in-theater premieres, rendering a trip to the local cineplex less necessary than ever. Naturally, this radical new strategy would change the entire face of the industry, and has accordingly raised hackles on the production, distribution, and exhibition sides of Hollywood. As movie theaters struggle to stay relevant and profitable, Parker’s every press conference sounds like a death knell. And this weekend, both sides of this instantly contentious debate dug in their heels on their positions.
Since making his debut in Tree of Life, Tye Sheridan has rapidly ascended the list of the most talented young actors to watch. And if you thought his upcoming role as Cyclops in X-Men: Apocalypse was going to put him at the top of that list, you may have been right, as Sheridan has signed on for another potentially major blockbuster, landing the leading role in Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ready Player One.
When all you care about is money, bad things happen. That’s the message of Jurassic World, where greedy theme-park executives hoping to spike attendance engineer the “Indominus Rex,” a genetically-modified dinosaur that immediately turns on its creators and runs amok. Designed as a cautionary tale about the dangers of building a meaner, badder monster purely for the sake of profits, Jurassic World works equally well as a cautionary tale about doing the same thing in movies. All of the rationalizations provided by Jurassic World’s employees — “Consumers want them bigger, louder, more teeth.” “Somebody’s gotta make sure this company has a future!” — could have been taken directly out of the mouths of the studio executives who approved this gene splice of a reboot and a sequel. Their creation — the Indominus or the movie, there’s basically no difference — is as advertised; huge, mean, and visually striking. But this experiment is not without consequences.
On June 20, 1975 a movie about an angry fish opened in about 500 theaters around the country. It was called Jaws, it was directed a guy named Steven Spielberg, it was scary as hell, and it changed the world forever. Its unique release strategy (wide instead of limited), intense television marketing campaign, and record-breaking box office essentially created the summer movie season (and made Spielberg a household name). 40 years later, regardless of its impact, Jaws remains a masterpiece, and a much better and more interesting movie than the vast majority of so-called summer blockbusters that it birthed.