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Steven Spielberg: ‘Ready Player One’ Was ‘The Greatest Anxiety Attack I Ever Had’ — SXSW

The director spent three years working on the project.

Steven SpielbergThe Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 05 Feb 2018

Chelsea Lauren/REX/Shutterstock

Director Steven Spielberg skipped the red carpet at Sunday’s premiere of “Ready Player One,” but surprised SXSW audiences by introducing the sci-fi adventure onstage. “This is not a film that we’ve made, this is — I promise you — a movie,” he informed the sold-out crowd at the Paramount Theatre, which gave him a long, raucous ovation. “It’s a movie that’s got to be seen on the big screen, and I’m wondering if this is a big-enough screen, because we made this with a lot of ambition to really fill the screens.”

The two-time Best Director Oscar-winner professed his love for the bestselling source material, written by Ernest Cline, who adapted his book with screenwriter Zak Penn (“X-Men: The Last Stand,” “The Incredible Hulk”). Spielberg’s goal was making a motion picture that would appeal to both video game enthusiasts and neophytes alike, although he falls in the former category: “I’ve been a gamer ever since 1974, when I played the first Pong Game on Martha’s Vineyard while filming ‘Jaws.'”

He admitted that the movie is so jam-packed with pop-culture homages — from “Back to the Future” and “Jurassic Park” to “King Kong” and “Say Anything” — that it could prove distracting. “Just remember one thing: The side windows are for cultural references, the windshield is for a story,” he said. “If you look straight ahead, you can always follow the story.”

During the post-screening Q&A, Spielberg said of the “Ready Player One” callbacks to his own work, “I didn’t know this would become a vanity album of my 1980s movies,” placing some blaming on persuasive producers and sly visual-effects artists: “We made seven passes on one shot, and it was the last pass right where I had approved a final — it’s hard to go back after you approve a final — where I said, ‘Shit, is that a gremlin?’ Which [Industrial Light & Magic] had snuck in, thinking I wouldn’t notice.”

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