Watch your backs Twilight and Hunger Games film fans, because there’s a totally radical fanbase on the horizon that’ll blow your collective minds: Ready Player One! With a unique story that combines today’s MMORPG and internet cultures with that of the 1980s, author Ernest Cline’s debut novel caught everybody’s attention from the get-go, with movie rights being bought by Warner Brothers months before the title even hit the shelves! An official release date hasn’t even been announced, but that hasn’t stopped diehard fans from blogging and talking about it incessantly. But a film as ambitious to the max as Ready Player One isn’t without its hurdles, and if you’ve read the novel, then you know what we at The MindHut are talking about (we’ll stop with the ‘80s slang, promise).
1) Copyright Issues
It’s ironic, but Ready Player One’s claim to fame—the fact that it’s saturated with ‘70s/’80s pop culture—just might be one of the biggest problems the film will most likely face. In the novel, OASIS (the fully immersive game world within the story) is a reflection of its creators multifaceted obsession with the 80s and, as such, includes the appearance of a multitude of intellectual properties from the era including Pac Man, the movie WarGames, and Dungeons & Dragons, to name a few. With so much copyrighted material in one film, you can imagine that Warner Bros. will have a difficult time trying to acquire the licenses to each and every one of these properties. But, logically, the studio will most likely take only the ones essential to the plot or easy to obtain—meaning that the film version might not be so faithful to the book.
2) Riding the ‘80s Movie Fad
If you were to check the movie barometer right now, it’s plain to see that Hollywood executives are cashing in on the public’s nostalgia for the ‘70s and ‘80s. Last year we got J.J. Abrams’ Super 8, and right now the upcoming film adaptation of Rock of Ages as well as Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph are all proof that audiences have an insatiable appetite for those particular eras. But culture trends can be a fickle mistress, and with no official date set for the Ready Player One movie, the film just might miss the boat on the ‘80s hype. Worse still, Ready Player One could possibly be lambasted by jaded critics as another entry in a waning fad, not giving it a proper chance and quick to dismiss it as a cinematic flop.
3) Overly Obscure Pop Culture References
There’s nothing wrong with a good pop culture reference—especially when it’s a playful jab or homage to some form of personal nostalgia. While us geeks appreciated the innumerable references to long-forgotten Saturday morning cartoons and video games made in Ready Player One, not everyone is going to understand them and find the fusillade of references grating and ultimately a turnoff; especially if they happen to be youngsters or casual moviegoers. As great as the novel is, it really isn’t for everyone, with some critics not being very fond of the book’s over-emphasis on ‘80s pop culture. Therefore, Warner Brothers will have to work hard to make this movie accessible for everyone, even if it means watering down certain story elements and going with pop culture references that are more universally understood.
4) A Massive Story
If you’ve read the book, then you know: Ready Player One’s story is huge! Even though the novel is slightly under 400 pages, there is plenty that goes on and it’s safe to assume that the film won't have a run time on par with The Lord of the Rings. There’s a lot of ground to cover: quite a few characters to introduce, a love story, multiple (and lengthy) quests steeped in ‘80s pop culture, conflict with the main villain, main character’s self-discovery (plenty of that), the epic final battle, etc. Pretending that Ready Player One was forced to be divided into two or three separate movies, the performance of the first decides if it merits a sequel and other subsequent installments. And if this is the case, part one would really have to bring its A-game if wants to see its story completely told—and earn moviegoers’ hard-earned dollars.
Do you think Ready Player One can be made into a movie?