EXCLUSIVE: ‘Ready Player One’ Writer Discusses Movie’s Most Divisive Scene

Chris Tilly

When adapting his novel Ready Player One for the big screen, writer Ernest Cline made multiple changes, many of which we addressed here. But the alteration we wanted to ask the man himself about has been dividing audiences in early screenings, with some liking it, and others very much not. It’s also something of a SPOILER, so if you don’t want to know this specific change before seeing the movie, click away now.

OK, so mid-way through proceedings, the second quest inside the OASIS plonks our heroes slap-bang in the middle of The Shining. Which is awesome. But also odd, seeing a horror classic being exploited in such a way. And even used for cheap laughs. So we asked Cline how The Shining‘s inclusion came about. And whether they ever worried about what director Stanley Kubrick might have thought.

Why The Shining Replaced War Games as the Second Quest

This Jack is happy that The Shining is in Ready Player One.

Ernest Cline: “War Games was unavailable. And also War Games was something that worked on the page, but also was more of a dialogue-driven movie and not necessarily a visually stunning movie. And we wanted a movie that was more visually striking.

“We made a list of ’80s films, and Stanley Kubrick only made one or two movies in the ’80s. When [director] Steven [Spielberg] saw The Shining on our list, he immediately started to geek out about the thought of recreating The Shining. So that was also one of my favourite changes because up until that point it had been me and Zak Penn — the other screenwriter — geeking out about all of our heroes. That was when we got to see Steven and [cinematographer] Janusz Kaminski geek out about Stanley Kubrick. Who they both knew and were friends with. But are also just the biggest fanboys of his work. To watch them recreating camera moves and even the film grain was just so much fun for me and everyone else.”

Messing With Kubrick’s Work

This Jack is less happy that The Shining is in Ready Player One.

Cline on potential misgivings about messing with The Shining: “I did not have them. I don’t know if Steven had any. He was so close with Stanley. They used to have fax machines set up devoted to each other where they would send faxes back-and-forth. I know that Christiane Kubrick — Stanley Kubrick’s widow — and also I think his daughter came and visited the set and gave their own blessing.

“I don’t think any other filmmaker in the world would have got permission to do it, but I think they knew Stanley would have trusted him. He trusted him with AI. And it’s such a loving homage and celebration of it, I don’t think that anybody could take offence at that.”

Ready Player One is out now.

Chris Tilly
FANDOM Managing Editor in the UK. At this point my life is a combination of 1980s horror movies, Crystal Palace football matches, and episodes of I'm Alan Partridge. The first series. When he was in the travel tavern. Not the one after.
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