The world premiere screening of Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One” had to be stopped twice at SXSW Sunday night due to sound issues. Trouble arose just as the film transitioned into its third act, shortly before 11:20 p.m. CT, when an onscreen explosion was accompanied by silence. Lots of festival-goers clapped — the film includes dozens of pop culture references, and there were people who assumed that the sudden hush echoed the climax of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”
“Ready Player One” was paused for about five minutes, during which some audience members inside the 1270-seat Paramount Theatre took pictures of the still image onscreen. “Hey guys, I don’t know what’s up but we’re trying to figure it out,” SXSW director Janet Pierson said as she came onstage to address the audience. “But [this movie]’s so cool, right? Everyone in here just soak up how cool this is and just be patient, go to the bathroom if you need for a second, we’ll trying to get it up again.”
The crowd cheered when the film resumed, rewound to the prior scene. But once again, the explosion was not accompanied by a blast. This time, the interruption lasted about a minute. On the third try, the scene played without issue, generating a huge reaction, including some audiences members who jumped to their feet.
Steven Spielberg introducing Ready Player One. pic.twitter.com/jmFs3yidKj
— Brian Tallerico (@Brian_Tallerico) March 12, 2018
IndieWire reached out to SXSW for comment on what went wrong; festival representatives have not yet responded. “Ready Player One” was officially added to the festival’s 25th annual line-up on Saturday, March 10. The screening brought to mind an incident that occurred at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival: Netflix’s “Okja” was halted minutes in when the film began playing in the wrong aspect ratio.
During the Q&A that followed, neither Spielberg nor Pierson reference the technical glitch. Yet the film’s Texas-born star, Tye Sheridan, did: “This is like the best two hours of my whole life. Except for the part where the movie stopped and the sound wasn’t working, that kind of sucked. But it did good to build it up, did it not?”
Warner Bros. will release “Ready Player One” on March 29.