Why “Ready Player One” Has Proven All The Haters Wrong

Matthew Loffhagen
Warner Bros
(Photo: Warner Bros)

It’s official: the haters are wrong. Not only is “Ready Player One” finding an audience, but it’s beating expectations.

While the movie has been lambasted by large chunks of the American public, who rail against the mere existence of a film that’s designed to be nothing more than a slew of cheap pop-culture references and Easter Eggs, Steven Spielberg’s newest cinematic endeavor is winning audiences over.

In the lead-up to the release of this movie, a lot of backlash began sprouting up online. The internet loves to be pandered to, but we do not love it when this comes in the form of such blatant fan service.

Ready Player One Spartans
Source: Entertainment Weekly

Passages from Ernest Cline’s novel, upon which the movie is based, began to float around. Some were deliberately taken out of context, and others were completely fictitious purely for the sake of feeding the echo chamber of hate that was surrounding the project.

The online chatter surrounding the movie made it seem as if this was pretty much going to be a wipeout. Nobody would be interested in seeing such a shallow, empty movie, right?

Ready Player One Lots of References
Source: Warner Bros

And yet, now that the film’s out, a lot of people are discovering that actually, “Ready Player One” is better than expected. It’s not by any means a great movie, but it’s not terrible, and a lot of people are having more fun with it than they expected to.

Critics in particular have been fairly positive about the movie, claiming to hate it less than they’d expected, in large part because of that classic Spielberg charm. To quote Bob “Moviebob” Chipman in his review, “Spielberg ‘phoning it in’ is better than most people trying their hardest”.

Audiences love the movie a lot more than they’d expected to as well, and what’s notable is that, in spite of all the online hate, the film has earned a bigger box office take than expected.

Ready Player One Behind the Scenes
Source: Entertainment Weekly

“Ready Player One” has received the best opening weekend of any Spielberg movie from the past ten years, beating projections of $170 million worldwide over its opening few days by instead achieving $181 million.

A lot of this support is coming from China, where audiences seem to be less familiar with Ernest Cline’s novel, and are therefore perhaps less likely to be tainted by the smear campaign that’s been levied against his work. The movie has earned more in China than America over its opening weekend, which is no small feat for a film without a longstanding franchise attached.

Even domestically, though, more people have gone to see “Ready Player One” than had been predicted by analysts. This isn’t enough to help the project break even any time soon (this was a very expensive film), but it is at least getting closer to its target.

What’s made the difference here? We all know that nostalgia sells, and good reviews from critics must have helped.

Ready Player One Teens
Source: Warner Bros

Hopefully, Hollywood won’t learn the wrong lesson from this endeavor and assume that “Ready Player One” is only a success because of all its dumb internet pandering. We’ve already had an Emoji movie, so it’s hard to predict just how much further studio executives will sink to try and appeal to the lowest common denominator.

Apparently, the trick to making successful movies is to simply make good movies, regardless of source material.

Why could possibly have guessed?