Spielberg Tried (And Failed) To Ban Spielberg References From Ready Player One

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When you create a virtual reality world overflowing with ’80s pop culture references, it’s virtually impossible not to reference the work of Steven Spielberg. As a director and/or producer, the filmmaker had a hand in five of the decade’s 10 biggest blockbusters—and countless other hits. However, the crew on Ready Player One was given a strict edict: no Spielberg references. Of course, that didn’t stop them from sneaking in the occasional background homage, including glimpses of the diner from Goonies (which got axed) and a graffiti Gremlin (which survived).

“I think a lot of the digital artists were trying to get some of their favorite ’80s cultural references in there,” Spielberg told Entertainment Weekly. “Having seen every shot 30 times as we go through all the different steps from pre-viz to animatic to final, I started noticing little things.”

While Spielberg recognizes the escapist thrill of these references, he had more substantial concerns in mind. “Escape has its pleasurable and medicinal place, but total escape should not be a destination,” he said, describing the film as a cautionary tale about glorifying the past—and much more. “The movie isn’t really about nostalgia. Nostalgia is only the window dressing—out your side windows, but the movie takes place out your windshield.”

Ready Player One arrives in theatres on March 29. Check out the trailer below.