So, I definitely wasn’t the world’s biggest fan of Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One. And without a doubt, it was nowhere near as good as its source material. However, it was a box office sensation that pulled in $582 million worldwide. And when Hollywood sees dollar signs like these, you can almost guarantee a sequel. Heck, I wouldn’t rule out a Marvel-Like universe based on the original Cline novel. (Not to mention the fact that it comes with an easily enumerated title: Ready Player Two, Ready Player Three. Even Ocean’s Eleven is envious.)
Well, come to find out, Ernest Cline – who, if you are ignorant of the fact, wrote the 2011 book upon which the Hollywood offering is based – might just be penning the next title in the series. Now, I have to say, that if Cline is just pulping out a sequel for a Hollywood payout, I will be enormously disappointed. But if Cline really is writing a full-fledged literary response to book one? I couldn’t be happier. Which, would obviously mean a cinematic sequel as well. So yeah, if this great writer can be persuaded to write more, then the Hollywood hype and drivel surrounding the first picture could be worth it. But will the author be affected by the silver screen version of his debut work?
Ready Player One draws on Nostalgia Magic
Cline’s Ready Player One novel was highly innovative in that it imagined a world in which virtual reality had already become widely used and people could effectively live their lives within a simulation. There are also elements of nostalgia, though, as the author frequently referenced popular games of days gone by, along with much-loved movies like Monty Python and the Holy Grail. For the cinematic offering, these nostalgia references were cranked up a few notches, as this has been a surefire way to attract audiences in recent years.
One of the current trends in gaming is to have modern elements mixed with retro themes. Games like Pokémon Go, for instance, have been immensely successful. The Niantic mobile title combines augmented reality with the classic 1990s Gameboy game to great effect. It seems that the creators of Ready Player One realized this, and used the same strategy to reel in viewers. The science fiction adventure was hugely futuristic in its vision, with sprawling VR worlds in which anything was possible. But because it also involved characters and settings that people could relate to, this made it accessible to a wide range of cinema goers of all ages. Younger viewers would get the more recent gaming references, while older viewers would appreciate the callbacks to older, classic games.
Well-Known Memories Helped Add to the Appeal
The film was jam-packed with so many Easter eggs for gamers that it was impossible to catch them all. In the introduction scene, viewers are taken on a journey through the OASIS, as Wade Watts explain why so many players choose to don the virtual reality headgear and escape into other worlds. Throughout this journey, there are references to a multitude of popular games and characters from gaming history, and this was used as a way to bring familiarity to viewers. There were a number of characters who appeared in the film who didn’t turn up in the book, and this technique could be used again in a sequel as a way to attract players of other games.
Some of the most notable character cameos in the movie included Freddy Krueger and Tracer from Overwatch. Krueger is one of the most enduring villains in the game world, and has appeared in a number of different titles. Recently, the dream demon was immortalized in the Nightmare on Elm Street slot game and also showed up as a playable character in Behavior Interactive’s Dead by Daylight. The version of the character shown in Ready Player One was closest to his Mortal Kombat incarnation in 2011.
It was also quite appropriate for the movie to feature Tracer, as Overwatch is one of the most-played eSport games around right now. The Blizzard Entertainment title is considered to be one of the greatest video games of all time, and has won numerous accolades since its release in 2016. If there is a sequel to Ready Player One, it will almost certainly contain a number of other references to games which are current at the time.
When Will the Next Book be Released?
Cline’s debut novel was met with high critical acclaim, and USA Today noted that it had elevated the author to the status of “hottest geek on the planet right now.” Immediately after securing a book deal with Crown Publishing Group for Ready Player One, Warner Bros. bought the film rights. These massive deals for a first book meant that there was a lot of pressure on Cline to craft further offerings. The author decided not to immediately follow up his debut book, and instead released Armada in 2015. Universal Pictures bought the film rights for that title, so that will be a standalone movie away from any potential cinematic universe involving Ready Player One.
Soon after the release of Armada, Cline announced that he was in the process of writing a third book, which would be a sequel to Ready Player One. Not much is known about the next offering, but Cline did mention that it would involve a lot of the popular characters from the first one with a number of pop culture references throughout. It appears that Cline already had the follow-up in mind and had started writing it even before the success of the movie, but it will be hard for him not to be influenced by the screen version when refining it in his later drafts.
Although book fans were generally disappointed with the Ready Player One big-screen offering, there is some joy to be found in the fact that the Hollywood deal helped persuade Cline to write another episode in the series. Because it is set in such a large world where the possibilities are endless, there is so much scope for a franchise here which could explore a large number of different characters. The pressure is on Cline now, though, as his second book was nowhere near as well-received as the first. The talented author needs to bounce back, and continuing the popular VR tale may be the way for him to do so.
Edited by, CY