Ready Player One

‘Ready Player One’ Opening Weekend Is Looking at $40-$50 Million Debut

Is 'Ready Player One' the next blockbuster?

“Ready Player One” is ready to hit theaters with everything it’s got and people just can’t wait to see how the movie will perform against all the expectations. Beside all the hype from the trailers, just the fact that it is a Steven Spielberg film makes people eager to dig into what seems like the next great blockbuster of the year.

With a weekend of otherwise light movie releases, “Ready Player One” is expected to dominate its four-day opening weekend over the Easter holiday. In fact, this film is expected to be Spielberg’s biggest box office opening since the 2008 film “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”

“Ready Player One” is expected bring in around $38 million $42 million over the four-day period. Some optimistic supporters expect the film, with a budget between $150 million and $175 million, to gross between $45 million and $55 million.

With recent films such as “A Wrinkle in Time” and “Pacific Rim: Uprising” coming up short and underperforming in the box office, especially after the success that Marvel’s “Black Panther” has received, “Ready Player One” is now the film people are looking to for their movie fix, hoping it will not only be eye-catching but also gripping and interesting for the last week of March and the month of April.

Based on the 2011 novel by Ernest Cline, “Ready Player One” is in America, more specifically in Columbus, Ohio, in a bleak dystopian mess in the near future due to overpopulation and climate change. The only bright side to it all is the beacon of technology: the OASIS.

The OASIS is an immersive virtual-reality universe that offers an escape to the people living in this dreary world. In a Willy Wonka-esque move, Halliday, the creator of this beloved OASIS (played by Mark Rylance) leaves behind clues for players to solve the puzzles hidden within that world. Whoever finishes that task will then gain ownership of the OASIS as well as a prize of half a trillion dollars.

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The protagonist of the film, Wade “Parzival” Watts, played by Tye Sheridan, ends up teaming up with some other dedicated gamers in order to solve the trillion-dollar puzzle. With the help of Samantha/Art3mis — the female lead played by Olivia Cooke — and Aech/Helen — the best friend played by Lena Waithe — and many more quirky characters, Watts go up against a corporate businessman who sees the OASIS as “the world’s most important economic resource” and a tool to take over the future.

Both the book and the film are saturated in ’80s references. Suffice to say that with the storyline of a commoner standing up against powerful shady businessmen and their plot to take over the economy, the countless ’80s pop culture and gaming references and the fact that it was directed by the infamous Steven Spielberg, the movie will definitely have people line up for its opening weekend.

The nostalgia and Easter eggs showcased throughout the trailer alone have people brimming with curiosity, not to mention fans of the novel waiting to see how the famous director will end up interpreting their favorite book. The novel itself was well-received when it first came out in 2011, but stronger critiques soon followed.

Back then, people questioned why a story so focused on movies, music, games and basically as much of the 80’s pop culture as possible would take on the medium of a novel. Those who doubted that choice of medium now have a chance to see it in what seems like a more suitable medium.

For a generation that basically grew up on the power of nostalgia, with sequels, prequels and reboots dominating the screens, this film took the spotlight as the second the trailer revealed the first Easter egg.

Some people are questioning the saturation of the ’80s pop culture and the lack of original characters in the movie, claiming that it’s lazy writing. Some of the critiques also point out that the movie seems to be heading in the way of the blockbuster “Jurassic World” as an eye candy with not much for the brain.

Ready Player One
‘Ready Player One’ offers a walkthrough of the past with its plethora of cultural references from the ’80s. (Image via Ready Player One Movie)

Despite the fact that the film will rely a lot on references, it also seems to be a unique and interesting adventure regarding its depiction of the government, the internet and escapism. Escapism is especially independent of the ’80s culture, allowing “Ready Player One” to broaden its pool of audiences.

The concept is fairly popular across media, some of which touch upon its more negative extremes such as taking drugs. With escapism playing the central role in plot development, the movie is certainly an attention-grabber with strong potentials for some juicy thought-provoking bits.

The film’s debut is on Wednesday, March 28, at 3,500 North American locations and it will be expanding on Thursday to 4,200 locations. Despite early tracking of the film suggesting that “Ready Player One” would fall short at the box office during its opening weekend, the excitement generated from the trailers and other promoting activities seem to be turning it around.

With big expectations for its four-day opening weekend and for the film itself, moviegoers have something exciting to look forward to before the next blockbuster hits in a summer full of action-packed films begins.

Steven Spielberg took a chance taking this dystopian novel, a project that differs from his most recent works and is more of a crowd-pleasing blockbuster, but maybe he will surprise everyone with it. Give it a chance and maybe you yourself will be surprised at the result.

Valeria Garcia, University of Texas at Austin

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Valeria Garcia

University of Texas at Austin
English Major, Creative Writing Minor

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