Ernest Cline on the set of Ready Player One. Photo by Jaap Buitendijk

 

Adventure Awaits Ready Player One’s Movie Audience

Author Ernest Cline is excited for film adaptation’s release

By Andy Smith

03/7/2018

Q&A





SHARE THIS

0

Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel Ready Player One takes place in 2045, when environmental disasters and fossil fuel shortages have triggered widespread economic hardships but technological advancements offer an escape to a better life in a virtual world called the OASIS, where limits of reality are your own imagination. The book’s plot follows what happens after the OASIS’ creator dies and announces a contest designed to find a worthy heir to take over control of the virtual world and inherit his fortune.

“I’ve been shocked at the speed with which VR technology is advancing. It all appears to be happening much faster than I predicted in my novel.”

The novel has become a global phenomenon, published in 58 countries and in 37 languages and selling millions of copies. It has spent roughly 100 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list and is currently #4 on the Amazon Most Read list (next to Dan Brown and J.K. Rowling).

The film adaptation of Ready Player One, co-written by Cline, was directed by Steven Spielberg and will be released in theaters worldwide on March 29, coincidentally Cline’s birthday. SXSW 2018 attendees will get an early look inside the film during special activations and events. The presence at SXSW is especially fitting because Cline not only lives in Austin, he also first met his now manager/producer Dan Farah (who produced Ready Player One, alongside Spielberg, Donald De Line, and Kristie Macosko Krieger) at a SXSW party in 2006, kicking off a collaboration and friendship that lead to Ready Player One and more.

Cline (R) with Ready Player One Director Steven Spielberg. Photo by Jaap Buitendijk

Cline (R) with Ready Player One Director Steven Spielberg. Photo by Jaap Buitendijk

 

Cline recently took the time to answer some questions about both the book and film:

What was the inspiration for Ready Player One?

The initial idea came from the Atari game Adventure, which was the first video game to have an Easter egg in it. The designer, Warren Robinett, was upset that he wasn’t going to get credit for the game, so he created a secret room that had his name hidden inside it. People all around the world discovered it, even though Atari didn’t know that the secret room was there. So when I discovered this, it was my first experience finding something inside a virtual world hidden by the creator of that virtual world. And it was a really profound experience. It really felt like he had hidden something, a secret inside his world, for me to find.

I was also a huge fan of Roald Dahl’s books growing up, especially the Willy Wonka books. And one day I had the idea: what if Willy Wonka had been a video game designer instead of a candymaker, and what if he held his golden ticket contest inside his greatest video game creation? And when I had that idea, I knew that I was onto something. It made me think of Adventure and finding those Easter eggs.

And when I started to think about what the riddles and puzzles and clues that this eccentric billionaire videogame designer could leave behind to find a worthy successor, that was when I hit upon the idea of him building them around his passions or things that he loves, his favorite movies, his favorite songs, his favorite characters from books, anything from his life. And that got me excited…

What is it about 1980s pop culture that so appeals to you?

I was 7 years old when the ‘80s began and 17 when they ended, so that was one of the most formative decades for me. It was also a Golden Age for cinema and the decade that gave rise to the information age we now live in. Growing up in the ‘80s, I was part of the first generation to have a home video game console, a home computer, and a video cassette recorder — all these technologies that would end up having a profound effect on my life, and on human civilization.

(L-R) Ernest Cline and Ready Player One producer, Dan Farah, on the set of Ready Player One, over a decade after they met at SXSW.

(L-R) Ernest Cline and Ready Player One producer, Dan Farah, on the set of Ready Player One, over a decade after they met at SXSW.

 

VR and AI technology have advanced a lot even since the novel was published in 2011. Are we getting closer to the OASIS?

I’ve been shocked at the speed with which VR technology is advancing. It all appears to be happening much faster than I predicted in my novel. And the really astounding thing is that many of the people who are directly involved in bringing this new technology about have told me that Ready Player One helped inspire them to work on VR in the first place. Helping to inspire real scientists to bring about a new technology is one of the greatest honors a science fiction author can receive, in my opinion.

What were some of the biggest challenges in adapting the novel to the big screen?

The biggest challenge was probably condensing the story in the novel so that it could be told in two hours, while still providing the audience with an experience that remains faithful to the source material.

The second biggest challenge was probably getting permission for all of the IP we wanted to use in our movie. But, as difficult as it was, since it was Steven Spielberg asking for permission almost everyone he asked would say yes.

What was it like to work with Steven Spielberg?

It’s the most enjoyable and gratifying experience I’ve ever had in my life. He’s such a kind and generous man, while also being an amazing collaborator. And he loves movies more than anyone I’ve ever met.

What are you most excited about regarding the film’s release?

I’m excited for people to see our movie. It’s an incredibly fun, character-driven adventure story. I think audiences are going to love it.

Ready Player One Experience with VIVE VR” will take place tomorrow (Friday, March 9) through Sunday, March 11 at Brazos Hall (204 E 4th St). Ernest Cline will be a Featured Speaker in the Entertainment Influencers track on Monday, March 12, at 12:30pm in Room 18ABCD at the Austin Convention Center.

Ready Player One premieres Sunday, March 11 at 9:30pm at the Paramount. See schedule.sxsw.com or the SXSW GO app for more details.

Read More

Stay
Tuned

Sign up to receive the latest announcements, tips, networking invitations and more.

Attend

Join us for unparalleled discovery, networking, and inspiration at the 2019 SXSW Conference & Festivals in Austin, Texas from March 8-17.