A river of words flowed between us.
Ready Player One is a 2018 American science fiction adventure film produced and directed by Steven Spielberg, and written by Zak Penn and Ernest Cline, based on Cline's 2011 novel of the same name. The film stars Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, and Mark Rylance.
The film takes place in the year 2045, when much of humanity uses the virtual reality software OASIS to escape the desolation of the real world. Orphaned teenager Wade Watts (Sheridan) discovers clues to a hidden game within the program that promises the winner full ownership of the OASIS, and joins several allies to try to complete the game before a large company run by businessman Nolan Sorrento (Mendelsohn) can do so.
Ready Player One premiered at South by Southwest on March 11, 2018, was theatrically released by Warner Bros. Pictures in the United States on March 29, 2018, in 2D, Real D 3D, IMAX and IMAX 3D. It has grossed $581 million worldwide, making it the sixth-highest-grossing film of 2018. The film received generally positive reviews, with critics praising its visuals, brisk pacing, and Rylance's performance. The film was noted to have significant differences from the book, with some critics calling the film's plot an improvement over the source material.
In 2045, due to various geopolitical events, many of Earth's cities have become slums; its inhabitants regularly escape into the virtual reality universe called OASIS. Its co-founder, the late James "Anorak" Halliday, announces a contest in which players must find an Easter egg inside a gate that requires three keys hidden in OASIS; the winner to receive full ownership and control of OASIS. This attracted many players, but as nobody has successfully completed the first quest - a vehicle race across ever-shifting roadways in Manhattan - the only players still trying are a number of "Gunters" (egg hunters) and the video game conglomerate Innovative Online Industries (IOI), headed by Nolan Sorrento, who employs a large number of Halliday researchers, top gamers and indentured servants called "Sixers".
In Columbus, Ohio, now the world's fastest-growing city, Wade Watts, an orphaned 17-year-old Gunter, lives with his aunt Alice in the "stacks", makeshift towers of trailer homes, and logs onto the OASIS from a nearby cargo van. His avatar Parzival, and his online friend Aech, a tall, muscular creature who deflates the first person shooter competition and works as a virtual mechanic, participate in the first quest: a vehicle race across ever-shifting roadways in Manhattan, which nobody has managed to accomplish. Parzival, driving the DeLorean from Back to the Future, reaches the home stretch before anyone else. Though still unable to cross the finish line at Central Park, he befriends a well-known Gunter named Art3mis by saving her from being "zeroed out" by King Kong, which would have wiped her character progression. At Anorak's virtual archives containing video clips reconstructing Halliday's life, Parzival gets an insight from a comment that Halliday made to his former business partner Ogden Morrow, with Halliday wishing he could "go backwards for once" and take back the situation. On the next race, realising the comment is a clue to beat the contest, Parzival reverses and uncovers an underground shortcut to bypass the obstacles and reach the finish line, and wins the Copper Key. Aech and Art3mis, as well as players Daito and Sho, soon follow; they appear atop the global scoreboard as the "High Five".
At an OASIS dance club, i-R0k, Sorrento's mercenary, overhears Parzival tell Art3mis his real name. Sorrento requests Wade to join IOI. Wade refuses out of distrust, whereupon Sorrento and his aide F'Nale Zandor bomb Wade's stack, killing Alice. Wade is taken to a Gunter hideout where he meets Art3mis' controller: Samantha Cook. They discover that Halliday had regretted something during a movie date with his love interest, Karen Underwood, who later married Morrow. After Parzival wins a coin on a small bet with the archive's curator, the High Five enter a re-creation of The Shining where they traverse a series of frightening events to eventually reach Kira and acquire the Jade Key.
When Zandor discovers the hideout, Samantha helps Wade escape, but is captured and made into a Sixer for defaulting on her family's debt. Wade is extracted by the other High Five players — Aech / Helen Harris, Daito / Toshiro, and Sho / Zhou — who have been secretly running their avatars from Helen's USPS truck. i-R0k activates a force field around the location of the Crystal Key — a fortress on Planet Doom — using a Level 99 artifact known as the Orb of Osuvox. Wade hacks Sorrento's rig, tricking him into believing he has been pulled out of the OASIS and held at gunpoint by himself and Daito, forcing him to divulge Samantha's location and communication access code to him; Wade then uses the information and a diagram of the rigs to guide Samantha from her binds. She hacks Sorrento's station for information on the Orb, while Wade recruits the many OASIS players to join an all-out assault against Sorrento and the Sixers at the fortress. Hiding among the active Sixers, Samantha shuts down the force field. In the ensuing battle, the rebels, including Aech on his Iron Giant mod, destroy Sorrento's Mechagodzilla and subdue I-r0k, but Daito and Aech are zeroed out and Parzival zeroes out Samantha's avatar to let her escape IOI in reality.
Parzival and Sho find Sixers lining up to play on an Atari 2600 console, but failing on each game after 60 seconds. The correct game is Adventure, but winning zeroes out the playing Sixer; Wade immediately realizes, through Halliday's initial message that sparked the contest, that the goal is not to win Adventure, but to find its own Easter Egg, the first of its kind. After a final, unsuccessful attempt to convince Wade to join IOI, Sorrento, despite being subdued by Wade, activates the Cataclyst, which zeroes out everyone on Planet Doom (including himself), seemingly ending the battle. However, the curator's coin protects Parzival as an extra life. He completes the quest and acquires the third key, despite coming under attack from Zandor in reality, and a vault forms. Inside the vault, Anorak presents Parzival a contract; however, Wade declines as it is similar to the one Morrow had signed that dissolved his partnership with Halliday, correctly believing it to be a test. Anorak transforms into Halliday, shows Parzival a Big Red Button that would shut down the OASIS permanently, and officially awards him the Golden Egg as the winner of the contest.
Sorrento arrives to kill Wade for real, but is forced to accept defeat when he sees that Wade has won, and is arrested afterwards alongside Zandor; Aech had sent the police a recording of Sorrento admitting to having killed Alice during his interrogation. The High Five, hailed as heroes, share control of the OASIS, with Wade hiring Morrow, revealed to be the archive curator, as a consultant on a salary of 25 cents. The group ban loyalty centers from access to the OASIS, including IOI's Sixer division, freeing them from their debts and heavily restructuring the company. The OASIS is shut down on Tuesdays and Thursdays to force people to spend more time in the real world, including Wade and Samantha who have formed a relationship and bought an apartment together; a voiceover by Wade, when revealing the decision, cites Halliday's words "reality is the only thing that's real."
- Tye Sheridan as Parzival / Wade Watts, a Gunter and one of the "High Five", who wishes to win the Quest so he can leave the stacks.
- Olivia Cooke as Art3mis / Samantha Cook, a famous Gunter, one of the "High Five" and also a member of an underground rebel organization, who works with various allies to ensure the OASIS is kept free and out of the hands of IOI.
- Ben Mendelsohn as Nolan Sorrento, the recently appointed CEO of Innovative Online Industries, who seeks full control over the OASIS. He leads the Sixers, an army of indentured servants in the OASIS.
- Lena Waithe as Aech / Helen Harris, a Gunter and one of the "High Five", who is male in the OASIS and longtime friend of Wade's. Aech runs a virtual garage in her free time to create and fix various vehicles and items, and deflates the first-person shooter competition on Planet Doom.
- T.J. Miller as i-R0k, a freelance weapons and magic item dealer and bounty hunter, who is often employed by IOI.
- Simon Pegg as Curator / Ogden Morrow, a co-creator of the OASIS, who eventually left the company due to personal reasons. He harbors a concern about how many people have developed an unhealthy dependency on the game.
- Mark Rylance as Anorak / James Halliday, the deceased co-creator of the OASIS, who includes an Easter Egg hidden in the OASIS after his passing that grants control over the OASIS to its winner.
- Philip Zhao as Sho / Zhou, a Gunter and one of the "High Five", an 11-year-old in reality.
- Win Morisaki as Daito / Toshiro, a Gunter and one of the "High Five".
- Hannah John-Kamen as F'Nale Zandor, the head of IOI's operations in the physical world, as well as their indentured servitude programs.
Additionally, Susan Lynch portrays Alice, Wade's aunt; Ralph Ineson portrays Rick, Alice's abusive boyfriend; Perdita Weeks portrays Karen "Kira" Underwood, Morrow's wife; Clare Higgins portrays Mrs. Gilmore, Wade's neighbor; Simone Kirby as Loretta; and Letitia Wright portrays a rebel who can briefly be seen at the safe house. McKenna Grace and Lulu Wilson appear as elementary school children who use the OASIS.
Warner Bros. and De Line Pictures won an auction for the rights to Ernest Cline's novel Ready Player One in 2010, before it had been published. Cline was set to write the script for the film, which Donald De Line and Dan Farah would produce. Eric Eason rewrote Cline's script, and Zak Penn was hired to rewrite the previous drafts by Cline and Eason. Village Roadshow Pictures came aboard to co-finance and co-produce the film with Warner Bros. Steven Spielberg signed on to direct and produce the film, which Kristie Macosko Krieger also produced, along with De Line and Farah. Ready Player One is Spielberg's first action-fantasy film since The Adventures of Tintin in late 2011. Cline and Penn made several revisions while adapting the novel to film. Most of these changes were to eliminate scenes that would be uninteresting in a visual format, such as when Wade beats a high score in Pac-Man, or recites all the lines from the film WarGames.
Three actresses were top-runners for the role of Art3mis: Elle Fanning, Olivia Cooke, and Lola Kirke; In September 2015, Cooke was announced as having been cast in the coveted female lead role. In January 2016, Ben Mendelsohn joined the cast. In February 2016, Tye Sheridan was confirmed as playing the lead role of Wade, after a lengthy nationwide casting call failed to produce an unknown for the part. In March 2016, Simon Pegg joined the cast. In April 2016, Mark Rylance joined the cast, and in June 2016, T.J. Miller, Hannah John-Kamen and Win Morisaki also joined. In July 2016, Philip Zhao joined the cast, and Lena Waithe, Ralph Ineson, McKenna Grace, and Letitia Wright were later also announced to have been cast.
Production was set to begin in July 2016. Screenwriter Zak Penn tweeted on July 1, 2016 that the first week of filming had been completed. In August and September 2016, filming took place in Birmingham, England; this included Livery Street in the Jewellery Quarter area of the city, which was extensively used, including the van chase that takes place towards the film's end. The chase was edited to make the street appear longer than it actually is. The backpackers' hostel Hatters, also on Livery Street, was used for internal filming for a basement scene. Also utilized was the Ludgate Hill Car Park lot on Lionel Street, in which caravan homes were partially built; a planned explosion caused some local business and homes to call emergency services, as no prior notification were given by the production. Other locations in the city included the former industrial area of Digbeth, with a rooftop scene that overlooks the Birmingham City Centre skyline, with some of the city's landmark buildings being erased and replaced with CGI buildings in order to create a dystopian Ohio in the year 2045. Principal photography ended on September 27, 2016.
Visual effects and post-production
Spielberg worked with Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) to oversee the film's visual effects, meeting with ILM for 3 hours three times a week. He has stated that "[t]his is the most difficult movie I've done since Saving Private Ryan."
A significant part of the film takes place in a virtual space based on the Overlook Hotel in the film The Shining. This was mostly a digital recreation of the film using high-quality telecine of the original film, giving them some freedom of new camera angles and shots that could be generated from this recreation. The final film includes a combination of the original footage from The Shining and ILM's additional work. Only a few scenes in this sequence which involved real actors, such as the appearance of the Grady twins, required them to construct a faithful reproduction of The Shining's set for the actors to interact with. Finally, the sequence was post-processed to introduce film grain and other aging effects to make the new footage indistinguishable from the original film.
Ready Player One pays homage to the popular culture of the 1970s and 1980s as in the book, but also extends to the 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s; several reviewers have identified well over one hundred references to films, television shows, music, toys, video games, anime and comics of these eras. Cline did not have any issues with these copyrighted elements when he published the book, but was aware that securing all necessary rights would be a major obstacle for a film adaptation, a task made easier by Spielberg's reputation. Spielberg and producer Kristie Macosko Krieger spent several years securing the rights for the copyrighted elements used in the film, starting before filming began, since some scenes would not be possible without certain copyrighted elements. Spielberg estimated that they had gotten about 80% of the copyrighted elements they wanted. Spielberg noted that in some cases, the filmmakers were able to secure rights for some but not all the characters they wanted; in negotiating with Warner Bros., they could not secure Close Encounters of the Third Kind from Columbia Pictures, despite the latter being one of Spielberg's first films as director.
Blade Runner, which was integral to the plot of the book, was off-limits to the film adaptation because Blade Runner 2049 was in production at the same time as Ready Player One. As a replacement, they conceived of players having to play out the events of The Shining, which Spielberg was able to secure the rights to as an homage to his friend Stanley Kubrick. While Cline's original work heavily used the character of Ultraman, the rights over the character were still under legal dispute, requiring them to replace Ultraman with the titular robot from The Iron Giant. Spielberg recognized that his past films were a significant part of the 1980s popular culture cited in the book, and to avoid being accused of "vanity", he opted to remove many of the references to his own work. Cline stated that he believed Spielberg wanted to avoid self-references to films he directed, due to the criticism he received for his film 1941, which lampooned his own previous works Jaws and Duel. Cline said he had to convince Spielberg to include some iconic elements, such as the Back to the Future DeLorean time machine, which Spielberg conceded as the film was one he produced rather than directed. Cline also asked ILM to include a reference to Last Action Hero, one of Penn's first screenplays, without Penn's knowledge.
- Main article: Ready Player One (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
On June 9, 2016, Variety stated that Spielberg's regular collaborator John Williams was planning to compose the film's score. However, in July 2017, it was reported that Williams had left the project to work on Spielberg's The Post instead, with Alan Silvestri hired to take over scoring duties for Ready Player One. The official score was released by WaterTower Music as a two-CD set on March 30, 2018, with vinyl and cassette releases projected for the summer. At Spielberg's request, Silvestri references his own music from Back to the Future within the film's score, as well as quoting the music from The Shining for the film's sequence at the Overlook Hotel.
The film also includes licensed music from the 1970s and 1980s, which appears on the digital-only album Ready Player One: Songs From The Motion Picture.
Ready Player One was initially scheduled to be released on December 15, 2017, but was pushed back to March 30, 2018, to avoid competition with Star Wars: The Last Jedi. In January 2018, it was announced the film's release date had been moved up one day to March 29, 2018. The film had its world premiere at the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas on March 11, 2018 (as part of the South by Southwest Film Festival).
Warner Bros. distributes the film worldwide, with Village Roadshow Pictures distributing in several overseas territories.
Ready Player One is scheduled to be released on digital retailers on July 3, 2018, and will be out on Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-Ray, and DVD on July 24, 2018.
As of June 26, 2018, Ready Player One has grossed $136.9 million in the United States and Canada, and $444.8 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $581.7 million. Made on a production budget of $175 million, with about $150 million more spent on global marketing costs, the film needed to gross at least $440 million in order to break-even.
In the United States and Canada, Ready Player One was released alongside God's Not Dead: A Light in Darkness and Acrimony, and was projected to gross $40–50 million from 4,100 theaters over its first four days. It made $12.1 million on its first day, including $3.75 million from Wednesday night previews. It ended up grossing $41.8 million in its opening weekend (for a four-day total of $53.7 million), marking Spielberg's biggest debut since 2008's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. In its second weekend it grossed $25.1 million (a drop of 40%), finishing second behind newcomer A Quiet Place ($50 million). In its third weekend the film made $11.2 million, coming in fourth behind Rampage, A Quiet Place and Truth or Dare. In its fourth weekend the film made $7.4 million, finishing sixth at the box office In its fifth weekend it grossed $2.4 million, a drop of 67% from previous weekend and finishing ninth.
Worldwide, the film was released day-in-date in 62 countries, including China, where it was expected to make $100–120 million in its opening weekend. It grossed $2.9 million on its first day from 11 countries, including $980,000 from Korea. In China the film made $14.75 million on its first day and earned a score of 9.2 from audiences on Douban (compared to the average 6–7 earned by Hollywood films). It grossed $61.7 million in China in its opening weekend which is the highest opening ever for Warner Bros in said territory. The film's other major opening weekend territories were South Korea ($8.1 million), United Kingdom ($7.3 million), Russia ($6.1 million) and France ($6 million). In its second weekend in China it grossed $42 million, and in third weekend grossed $13.9 million. The film grossed $81.7 million in its second weekend overseas, dropping only 35% and is ahead of other newcomers A Quiet Place and Blockers. In its third weekend it grossed $33.8 million overseas dropping 58.6%. On April 21, 2018, the film topped $200 million in China, becoming the tenth-biggest U.S. release ever in the country. In its fourth weekend in China, it grossed $8.24 million finishing third at the box office and has a total gross of $207 million. It grossed $23 million overseas from 67 territories in its fourth weekend. It opened in Japan, its final major market and grossed $4.4 million. In its fifth weekend overseas, it grossed $8.6 million from 63 territories. In China, the weekend was $2.4M to push it past Avatar as the no. 9 Hollywood title ever in the market with $213.8M (RMB 1.34B). Japan's third frame held well during Golden Week with just a 6% drop from the last session. The total there is currently at $17.5M. In its sixth weekend in China, it bumped up 10% from last session to lift the local cume to $220.2M. As of April 29, the film's largest markets after China are United Kingdom ($22.6 million), France ($20.3 million), Korea ($18.6 million), Japan ($17.5 million), and Russia-CIS ($12.7 million).
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 73% based on 333 reviews, and an average rating of 6.9/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Ready Player One is a sweetly nostalgic thrill ride that neatly encapsulates Spielberg's strengths while adding another solidly engrossing adventure to his filmography." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 64 out of 100, based on 54 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it an 82% overall positive score and a 65% "definite recommend".
In a review for RogerEbert.com, Brian Tallerico wrote that the film's "overwhelming" nature and non-stop action will likely thrill fans of pop culture; while he observed narrative weaknesses, such as a lack of depth among the supporting characters, he felt that they ultimately do not hinder the film from working "on the level of technical, blockbuster mastery that Spielberg helped define." Writing for Variety, Owen Gleiberman called the film a "coruscating explosion of pop-culture eye candy," and found The Shining sequence to be "irresistible". However, he also criticized Spielberg's dichotomization of fantasy and reality, as well as the film having "more activity than it does layers." IndieWire's Eric Kohn characterized the film as "an astonishing sci-fi spectacle and a relentless nostalgia trip at once" and praised both The Shining sequence as well as Penn's screenplay, particularly with respect to Mendelsohn's character. Nevertheless, he remarked that the film "drags a bunch in its final third".
Alissa Wilkinson, writing for Vox, praised both the quality and quantity of the world building. She also commented on just how dystopian the future portrayed is, where the main characters fight to save the OASIS and the escape from reality it represents, with arguably less concern for the problems of the real world.
Monica Castillo was more critical of the film in her review for The Guardian and drew attention to the absence of character arcs, the lack of resolution for plot holes in the novel, and the bloating of scenes in the film by trivia. Matt Bobkin scored the film a 6 out of 10 for Exclaim! saying the film "is not so much a groundbreaking recontextualizing, more doe-eyed affection with no critical commentary."
Film and television critic Matt Zoller Seitz praised Ready Player One and noted the undercurrent of sadness present in the film, stating that "I don't think Spielberg gets enough credit for making sad films that most people interpret as happy, and complex films that are immediately dismissed as simple or confused." Seitz concluded that the film "is a mess, but it is a fascinating and complex one..."
Cline is working on a sequel to the novel. For a sequel to the film, he stated, "[...] I think there's a good chance that, if this one does well, Warner Bros. will want to make a sequel. I don't know if Steven [Spielberg] would want to dive back in, because he would know what he is getting into. He's said that it's the third-hardest film he's made, out of dozens and dozens of movies."
List of Licences that helping the references
Since the film use many cameos from other films, video game, or anime, Warner Bros need to buy under these licenses:
- Atari Interactive. Inc for Adventure, Joust, Robotron: 2084, Centipede, Swordquest, Pacman
- Bandai Namco Entertainment, Inc. for Gundam
- Bethesda Softworks LLC for Skyrim
- Blizzard Entertainment for Overwatch, Starcraft and Warcraft
- Capcom U.S.A for Street Fighter
- CBS Television Studios for Star Trek
- Disney Enterprises, Inc. for Star Wars and Marvel Comics
- Gearbox Software for Borderlands
- Hasbro, Inc.
- Jim Henson Company, Inc. for Fraggle Rock
- Kodansha Ltd.
- Konami Digital Entertainment
- Mattel, Inc. for Hot Wheels Masters Of The Universe
- MGM Media Licensing for Child's Play
- Microsoft Corporation for Halo and Mass Effect
- Mifune Corporation for Daito's Avatar appearance on Mifune's samurai film.
- Mojang AB for Minecraft
- Nickelodeon & Viacom
- Nintendo Corporation for 1-up Sound Effect Donkey Kong Jr. poster
- Orion Pictures for Rambo poster, RoboCop mention of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
- Paramount Pictures for War of the Worlds
- Rare Ltd. for mention of 007 Goldeneye
- Sanrio Company, Ltd.
- SEGA Holdings for Sonic the Hedgehog
- Sesame Workshop
- Sony Pictures and Columbia Pictures for Christine
- Square Enix Holdings for Tomb Raider
- Sunrise, Inc. for Gundam too
- Legend Pictures for Godzilla
- Tatsunoko Productions for Go, Speed Racer, Go!
- Toho Pictures for MechaGodzilla
- Topps Company, Inc. for Garbage Pail Kids Cards
- Twentieth Century Fox for Alien/Aliens
- Universal Studio Licensing for Back To The Future, The Breakfast Club, The A-Team, Knight Rider, Jurassic Park, Jurassic World and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
- Valve Corporation for HTC Vive
- WEP LLC
- Wizards of the Coasts for Dungeons and Dragons
List of References
- Adventure: Playing Adventure and finding Warren Robbinet's name is the task for the final challenge.
- Asteroids: James Halliday Mentions that Asteroids is perfect. an Asteroids Arcade Cabinet is visible behind The Curator's Desk at the Halliday Journals Building..
- Atari 2600: An Atari sticker is on the front of Art3mis's bike. Playing an Atari 2600 Video Game is task for the final Challenge.
- Batman: Arkham Series: The Arkham Knight is briefly seen exiting Halliday Journals then later watching Parzival's broadcast and finally appearing during the final battle. Man-Bat is shot by Aech during the PvP fight. Harley Quinn can be seen in the Distracted Globe numerous times. The variant of Batgirl that appears in this film is also taken from the series. Firefly appears during the final battle, jumping behind Parzival once he lifts up the boombox.
- Battleborn: Attikus can be seen walking in the Oasis. El Dragòn first appears walking past Parzival when he is heading for the Copper Key race and later appears in the second row of OASIS players during the final battle. Ambra first appears as one of the players bombarding Parzival inside Halliday Journals and later during the final battle in Tracer's clan. Orendi can be seen stepping out of an entry portal in the OASIS. Miko can be seen exiting Halliday Journals and later at the Distracted Globe. Benedict can be seen walking behind Parzival on Incipio. Attikus, El Dragòn, and Toby are seen in the final battle. Shayne and Aurrox are seen behind Parzival when he is first seen. Pendles is briefly seen at the OASIS mall after Parzival purchases the Holy Hand Grenade.
- Battletoads: Zitz And Rash are Avatars entering the OASIS Entry Plaza When Wade explains you can be a different species. Pimple is seen at the Distracted Globe Dance-Floor dancing with Miko from Battleborn. Zitz, Rash, and Pimple are one of the first avatars responding to Wade's Broadcast on Planet Doom.
- Battlezone: The look of this game is the basis of the OASIS planet Archaide. Several Tanks from Battlezone are sen on the Planet Doom PvP battle and again in the final battle.
- Berzerk: One of the games suggested by the Halliday Scholars while attempting to complete the third challenge.
- BloodRayne: Rayne is briefly seen during the final battle in Tracer's clan.
- Borderlands: A Borderlands stall can be seen in the OASIS mall.
- Castlevania: A framed poster for the Game is seen when Halliday and Morrow are presenting the first OASIS Build in 2025. A much smaller poster is seen stuck to the wall of Aech's garage.
- Centipede: A Sixer tries playing Centipede on the Atari 2600 but fails.
- ColecoVision: When Wade is transported to Halliday's childhood bedroom, he sees a young Halliday using a ColecoVision (as evidenced by the controller).
- Commodore 64: In Wade's hideout in the stacks, he hangs his retinal scanner on a Commodore 64 joysick.
- Dark Souls: A Mushroom Parent and Mushroom Child can be seen hopping out of the OASIS Entry Portal next to Robocop. A Mushroom Parent can be seen watching Wade's Broadcast for help.
- Defender: When Wade is getting ready to log into the OASIS, he pulls out his OASIS Headset out of a Defender shirt. While trying to bribe Wade, Sorrento asks him if he wants the ship from Defender. Later, it is suggested that a Sixer should play the game on the Atari 2600; however, the idea instantly gets dismissed.
- Donkey Kong Jr.: A poster of the game appears in the bedroom of a little girl who controls one of the PVP battle characters.
- Duke Nukem: Duke Nukem is one of the OASIS civilians taken out by Aech during the PvP fight. Duke Nukem respawns on the pyramid, where he jumps an unsuspecting civilian (seen behind E. Honda). The Colt 9119 Gold-Plated Gun appears next to the Orb Of Osuvox when Sorrento first picks it up. An OASIS Avatar hands Wade the Railgun from Duke Nukem Forever in the final battle.
- Galaga: A Galaga poster appears on the wall in Halliday and Morrow's office. A poster for the 1983 video game appears on the wall in Aech's Garage and apartment.
- Game Boy: A Game Boy can be seen in Wade's hideout van. A Game Boy also appears next to young Halliday in his childhood bedroom.
- Gears of War: Art3mis uses a Mark 2 Lancer Assault Rifle during the final battle. Dizzy Wallin from Gears Of Wars 2 can be seen chatting to Lara Croft before the Copper Key Race. Aech takes out a Berserker during the PvP Planet Doom battle.
- GoldenEye 007: While Parzival and Art3mis test each other's knowledge in Aech's garage, they mention that this was Halliday's favorite shooter game and that Oddjob was his favorite character to play as. Toshiro uses a PP7 Silencer Gun from the game to hold Sorrento.
- Gorf: The game young Halliday is playing in the end scene where his grown version gives Parzival the Egg. As indicated by the system's controller, he is playing the ColecoVision version.
- Grand Theft Auto IV: Niko Bellic is seen in the Planet Doom PvP battle and again in the final battle
- Grand Theft Auto V: Franklin is seen in Incipio, and in the final battle. Michael appears briefly at the Distracted Globe and in the final battle. Trevor is seen in the final battle.
- Halo: A group of Spartans, Arbiters, and an Elite are seen in the final battle. The Elite in the final battle shows up in the beginning, driving the A-Team Van during the Copper Key Race. When Aech is in the PVP zone, he uses an M8080b Assault Riffle. Art3mis uses a Magnum Pistol during the shootout in the Distracted Globe. During the final battle, Parzival is seen summoning an SPNKR Rocket Launcher from the first three games. In Avatar Outfitters a stall for Halo is visible selling Covenant Armour.
- Haunted House: One of the games that the Halliday Scholars suggests while attempting to complete the third challenge.
- Homeworld: The Kushan Mothership, Kadeshi Mothership, Taiidan Scout, Taiidan Bomber and Vaygr Assault Craft are amongst the ships entering the Distracted Globe.
- Injustice: Gods Among Us: The variants of Supergirl, Blue Beetle, Flash, Deadshot, Nightwing and Aquaman are from this game.
- Joust: Knights And Ostriches from the game charge into each other during the introduction Of Planet Doom. Wade's OASIS Headset has a Joust decal placed onto it. A Joust poster appears in Aech's Garage.. One of the Halliday Scholars working for IOI suggests they should play Joust for the final challenge. In an archived memory behind Wade is a teen James Halliday playing Joust in the Happy Time Pizza Joint. A Joust poster appears in Halliday's childhood bedroom.
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: Hyrule Castle is listed on a Halliday Scholar's whiteboard as a possible location for the final challenge. A piece of artwork from the video game's manual is a poster on the wall of Jim Halliday's childhood bedroom.
- Lugaru: Turner is seen in the final battle, seen on the left to Tracer.
- Mass Effect: Commander John Shepard is visible roaming the Entry Plaza under the walkway that Wade contacts Aech on. Shepard also appears at the Distracted Globe, doing his Shy dance from the game. Commander Jane Shepard appears next to Tracer when Wade shouts "first to the key".
- Minecraft: One of the many locations introduced in the OASIS is a Minecraft planet. Roaming the Minecraft Village in the planet are skins of Steve and Alex along with pigs and sheep.
- Missile Command: A Missile Command arcade cabinet is behind the Curator's Desk at the Halliday Journals building. A poster for the game is hanging from the roof in Aech's apartment. A Missile Command game cartridge is next to Young Hallliday's ColecoVision in Halliday's childhood bedroom recreation.
- Mortal Kombat: Art3mis disguises herself as Goro (along with a Chestbuster from Alien which pops out of her) while at Holliday Journals. Cassie Cage and Scorpion are spotted during the final battle on Planet Doom. A dragon pin is on the collar of Toshiro's shirt. The dragons on either side of Halliday's Easter Egg are an inverted version of the dragons from the Mortal Kombat logo. Raiden, Sub-Zero, and Scorpion appear as statues cavities in the shrine wall. Kitana and Scorpion are also seen during the PvP fight on Planet Doom getting shot by Aech.
- Motocross: One of the games that the Halliday Scholars suggests while attempting to complete the third challenge.
- Nintendo Power: The original issue of the magazine can be seen on top of a stack of magazines in Aech's workshop when Parzival is picking an outfit to meet Art3mis at the Distracted Globe.
- Nintendo Zapper: One is hanging on the wall behind Wade as he straps on his visor in his hideout.
- Overwatch: Tracer is seen during the final battle in the OASIS and can also be seen briefly in the Oasis zooming into a portal. In the OASIS Mall, an Overwatch stall can be seen and Reaper shows interest in the dance zone when Wade puts on the Bee Gees' "Staying Alive".
- Pac-Man: A Pac-Man tabletop can be seen in Aech's hangout. A High School student wears a Pac-Man T-shirt. The Cherries from the game can be seen as a sticker on Samantha's OASIS visor. A Ms. Pac-Man sticker can be seen on Art3mis's Akira bike. A Pac-Man poster appears in Halliday's childhood bedroom.
- Pitfall! One of the pop-culture nerds working for IOI suggests they should play Pitfall on the Atari 2600 but instantly gets dismissed.
- Pole Position: Two race cars from the game can be seen on the copper key racetrack.
- Q*bert: A Q*bert sticker can be seen in Wade's hideout van.
- Resident Evil: Jill Valentine swarms Parzival when he enters Halliday Journals after collecting the copper key.
- Revenge From Mars: An arcade cabinet appears in Wade and Samantha's apartment.
- Robotron: Sorrento tells Wade that he likes to relax by playing the video game.
- Sega: A Sega sticker can be seen on Art3mis's Akira bike during the race.
- Sonic the Hedgehog: The titular character can be seen both waiting for an OASIS portal and attacking a Sixer during the final battle. Tails briefly appears alongside Sonic when the army first appears in response to Parzival's call.
- Space Duel: A poster for the Atari game is visible hanging from the roof above Aech when he is lecturing Wade about meeting people in the OASIS.
- Space Invaders: A graffiti of multiple invaders are on a brick wall in Ohio. James Halliday wears a Space Invaders T-shirt. On Wade's OASIS visor, there is a sticker of the logo from Space Invaders.
- StarCraft: Jim Raynor appears as Rick's avatar in the PVP Zone. A Protoss is briefly seen walking behind Hello Kitty and her friends.
- Star Fox: The Great Fox is amongst the many starships going to the Distracted Globe.
- Street Fighter: Ryu is seen on walking the OASIS racetrack. Blanka and Chun Li are seen in the Distracted Globe. Both Chun-Li and Sagat are seen in the crowd of Oasis civilians during the final battle. The Street Fighter logo is seen as a sticker on Samantha's Oasis visor. Ryu appears again during the final battle, punching Sixers and attacking a Big Daddy, while Cammy is part of a group that gets zeroed out by the Cataclyst. E. Honda can be seen during a PvP fight climbing the Gregarious 120 Mountain and later during the final battle. Chun Li can be seen during the PvP fight swinging on a rope. The OASIS Mall contains a Street Fighter store. Wade uses a Hoduken during his fight against Sorrento's avatar.
- Super Breakout: It is suggested by a Halliday Scholar that a Sixer should play the game. A ROM game cartridge of the game is laying next to young Halliday's ColecoVision.
- Super Mario Bros.: The 1-Up sound effect is played when Art3mis asks Parzival out and returns his extra life coin to him. The Mushroom Kingdom is written down on the Halliday Scholar Whiteboard for a possible location for the Crystal Key.
- Super Mario Kart: Helen jokes about practicing her Mario Kart when IOI Vehicles ram into Helen's Postal Truck.
- Swordquest: It is suggested that a Sixer should play Swordquest on the Atari 2600, but instantly gets dismissed.
- Taito: A sticker of the company logo is visible on Art3mis' bike at the racetrack.
- Tempest: An arcade cabinet of the game appears behind the Curator's desk in Halliday Journals. In the novel, Tempest is the first part of the final challenge.
- Tetris: One of the arcade cabinets behind the Curator's desk is of Tetris.
- Tomb Raider: Lara Croft appears in the Distracted Globe, as part of the swarm that surrounds Parzival at Halliday Journals, and during the final battle.
- Ultrabots: A scorpion can be seen taking out the knight on the ostrich and carrying its rider in the Comic-Con trailer and a scorpion is among the mechs used in the final battle
- Warcraft: An Orc can be seen behind Parzival when he's first seen.
- 2001: A Space Odyssey: The EVA Discovery Space Pod is waiting for repair in Aech's garage.
- The 7th Voyage of Sinbad: The Cyclops can be seen during the final battle and can also be seen walking around the Oasis.
- Akira: Art3mis drives Shotaro Kaneda's motorcycle.
- Aliens: Wade shows Art3mis a replica of the USS Sulaco in Aech's garage. Later, Art3mis (Disguised as Goro) pulls a prank on Wade and makes a Chestbuster pop out of her. Alien was one of the films Halliday watched on the week he went on a date with Kira. Art3mis also uses Ellen Ripley's M41A Pulse Rifle during the shootout at the Distracted Globe, and Ripley's Grenade Launcher to zero Sixers during the final battle.
- Animal House: Wade references Faber College while testing Sorrento's pop culture knowledge.
- Army of Darkness : The Deadites are seen in the Oasis battlefield.
- Avatar: One of the stores at OASIS Mall is called Avatar Outfitters, the sign's font matches that of the film's logo.
- Back to the Future: Parzival is seen driving a DeLorean time machine, complete with flux capacitor. In Aech's Basement, there is a replica of the Hoverboard from Back to the Future: Part 2. When Art3mis is about to exit Aech's garage, she refers to Parzival as Marty McFly and does the helmet pose before exiting. Doc Brown, with his Back to the Future: Part 2 clothes and helmet, can briefly be seen wandering around the OASIS while Wade is walking to Halliday Journals. A Mayor Goldie Wilson election poster can be seen while Wade is choosing his party outfit. Wade purchases a Zemeckis Cube, named after the director of the film series, Robert Zemeckis.
- Batman: The Batman logo can be seen as a sticker on Wade's OASIS visor. Samantha has a smaller version of the same sticker on her own visor. A Batman sticker is featured several times again as a sticker on Akihide's shirt, on the walls in Aech's basement, and in Helen's truck. The Batmobile featured in the film is in Aech's garage. When Wade is introducing the OASIS he shows us players climbing Mount Everest with Batman. A Batarang can be seen spinning around in a weapon selection room. Catwoman can first be seen watching Wade's broadcast and later during the final battle. The Joker, alongside a Gremlin, can be seen during the final battle, and both he and Harley Quinn appear in the Distracted Globe. Ace Chemicals can be seen as a sign on a building in the Copper Key racetrack.
- Beetlejuice: Beetlejuice appears in Haliday Journals, being a fan of Parzival.
- Big: In Wade's real world hideout, a list of movies on his wall includes Big.
- Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure: While talking to Morrow, Halliday says that he wishes he could go back in time putting the "pedal to the metal" like Bill and Ted.
- The Breakfast Club: John Bender can be seen walking in the OASIS next to Nightwing. In Halliday Journals the tables in the building are exactly the same color and setup of the Detention room at the High School. One of the Halliday scholars mentions Shermer High School to Sorrento, who, in turn, mentions the film to Wade.
- Buckaroo Banzai: Parzival dresses up in Buckaroo's suit at the Distracted Globe.
- The Cannonball Run: In Wade's real world hideout, a list of movies on his wall includes (The) Cannonball Run.
- Child's Play: Chucky is an artifact seen during the final battle. Helen tosses him to Wade, who then unleashes the doll on a group of Sixers.
- Christine: The titular car can be seen amongst other famous vehicles in the OASIS racetrack.
- Citizen Kane: Wade refers to Kira, and later, Morrow, as being the "Rosebud" at the center of the mystery of Halliday's contest.
- Cocktail: The Cocktails and Dreams neon sign from the movie appears on a wall in Aech's garage.
- Conan the Barbarian: Conan can be seen in the Crowd of OASIS Avatars Partying at the Distracted Globe when Wade first enters.
- The Dark Crystal: When Halliday is telling Morrow about his date with Karen, he comments that her gamer name is "Kira" "like the character in The Dark Crystal". The movie's title is also listed among several others films in Wade's notebook.
- Dracula: Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D minor" plays as Holliday rises from his coffin during his will and testament video, mimicking one of the title character's famous scenes.
- Eraser: Aech picks up an EM-1 Rail Gun during the PVP fight.
- Escape From New York: In Wade's real world hideout, a list of 80's movies on his wall includes the film. The map from the film also appears on a TV screen during the first appearance of the Halliday scholars.
- Excalibur: The spell that i-R0k uses to activiate the Orb of Osuvox (and that Art3mis later uses to de-activate it) is taken from the movie.
- Fast Times at Ridgemont High: Wade mentions the school while testing Sorrento's pop culture knowledge.
- Ferris Bueller's Day Off: The red Ferrari can be seen in Aech's garage. A Save Ferris T-shirt can be seen in James Halliday's room. When Wade asks Sorrento "Ridgemont or Faber?", a Halliday scholar tells him that the correct answer is Faber, which is the fictional high school which both Ferris Bueller and The Breakfast Club attend. Both films were written and directed by John Hughes.
- Firestarter: The film appears among a gallery of those that were playing on the weekend that Halliday took Karen on their date.
- The Fly (1986): It's mentioned that this film was playing on the weekend that Halliday took Karen on their date.
- Forbidden Planet: A Robbie The Robot toy appears in Holliday's childhood bedroom. A much larger model of Robbie appears in Wade and Samantha's apartment.
- Friday the 13th: Jason Voorhees is seen in the crowd of OASIS civilians during the final battle Being wiped out by the catalyst. Jason Vorhees can briefly be seen earlier fighting Daito and Shoto during the PvP fight.
- Ghostbusters: In Wade's hideout, a list of movies on his wall includes Ghostbusters.
- Godzilla: Mechagodzilla is piloted by Sorrento in the final battle. A toy model of Godzilla can be seen in James Halliday's bedroom.
- The Goonies: The Goonies logo is printed on a James Halliday Newspaper Article. An IOI pop-culture nerd can be seen watching a Goonies scene with Mikey on his computer.
- Gremlins: A Peltzer Peeler Juicer is available for purchase from the same kiosk where Wade purchases the Holy Hand Grenade. Multiple Gremlins are briefly seen in the crowd of OASIS civilians during the final battle. A poster of a Mogwai (most likely Gizmo) can be seen on the set of the film. A sticker of a Gremlin is seen in Wade's hideout van. The box that stored Gizmo is what stores Sorrento's Orb. During the final battle, Stripe can be seen as part of Spawn's clan and later running with Freddy Krueger.
- Groucho Marx: Halliday quotes the actor to Parzival when he mentions that reality's the only place to get a decent meal.
- The Haunted Mansion (2003): The Ballroom scene was used in this film, but with dancing zombies replacing the dancing ghosts.
- Highlander: Among the notes in Wade's notebook are "I Am Juan Sanchez Villa Lobos Ramirez." Silvercup Studios (where the Final Battle Of Highlander took place) is visible at the Race when Kong destroys the road.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The clue to the third challenge mentions the ultimate number, which is 42 (as it is in the book). Shortly afterward, the movie's title appears among several others in Wade's notebook.
- Indiana Jones: A replica of the golden idol from Raiders of the Lost Ark on a shelf in Aech's basement. A poster for Raiders of the Lost Ark can be seen in Halliday's childhood bedroom. Indiana Jones and the Temple Of Doom is written down as a clue for the Crystal Key in Samantha's Notebook.
- Innerspace: A VHS copy of the movie sits on a shelf in Halliday's childhood bedroom.
- The Iron Giant: The Iron Giant can be seen in Aech's workshop and is later used as an avatar by Aech during the final battle.
- It's A Wonderful Life: i-R0k quotes the Angel Clarence's note to George Bailey that "No man is a failure who has friends."
- Jason and the Argonauts: The Living Skeletons can be seen during the final battle.
- Jurassic Park: Rexy the Tyrannosaurus Rex can be seen as one of the obstacle hazards on the Oasis racetrack, chasing Aech's monster truck. The Space Invaders arcade cabinet in Aech's basement has a huge Jurassic Park logo sticker on to it.
- King Kong: King Kong is seen as one of the stage hazards in the Oasis racetrack. The movie's title also appears in a list of film's on the wall of Wade's hideout in The Stacks.
- Krull: After learning the clue to the third challenge, a page of Wade's open notebook includes the names of several films including Krull. During the final battle, Sho uses the Glaive from Krull to cut off i-R0k's arm.
- Labyrinth: There is a poster of the film in Wade's hideout van.
- Ladyhawke (1985): A poster of the film can be seen in Halliday's childhood bedroom.
- Last Action Hero: Jack Slater III is showing at the theater in New York during the race.
- Mad Max: The Interceptor car is seen as one of the vehicles in the Oasis racetrack. A Mad Max poster can be seen in Aech's basement when wade is choosing his party outfit. A videocassette of Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior was seen in i-R0k's stash when he zeroes out by the Cataclyst.
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Parzival purchases The Holy Hand Grenade at the OASIS Mall, then uses it during final battle to take out a group of Sixers. The Holy Grail is seen again when i-R0k gets zeroed out by the Cataclyst.
- A Nightmare on Elm Street: Freddy Krueger is one of the OASIS civilians taken out by Aech in the PVP fight and can later be seen during the final battle. A poster of the film can be seen in Wade's hideout van.
- Pee-Wee's Big Adventure: Pee-Wee's bicycle can be seen in Aech's garage. A videocassette of the movie was seen in i-R0k's stash when he gets zeroed out by the Cataclyst.
- Robocop (1987): The ED-209 can be seen in the back corner of Aech's garage. The titular character is briefly seen emerging from the OASIS Entry Portal When Wade says you can be a Live-Action Character. A Delta City billboard appears at King Kong's Stage When Kong destroys the Roads.
- Rocky Horror Picture Show: The biting lip logo is among the many patches on Helen's jacket.
- Saturday Night Fever: There are multiple mini-dance floors based on the film in the Distracted Globe.
- Say Anything...: Art3mis also mentions that the movie was playing on the weekend that Halliday and Karen went on their single date. Parzival is seen holding the boombox from the film, causing it to play music during the battle.
- Scarface (1983): The video cassette of the movie was seen in I-r0k's stash when he gets zeroed out by the Cataclyst.
- See No Evil, Hear No Evil: Wade's hideout in The Stacks has a list of movie's on one wall that includes the 80's comedy film.
- The Shining: A Flicksync based on the movie acts as one the three key challenges, which includes numerous shot for shot recreations from the film. To initiate the challenge, the High Five enter a theater called The Overlook, named after the fictional hotel from the movie. Earlier, Halliday can be spotted in his office designing the bathroom of the Overlook Hotel, which appears during the challenge.
- Silent Running: While in Aech's workshop, Parzival shows Art3mis a replica of the Valley Forge.
- Smokey and the Bandit: Sho drives a 1976 Pontiac Trans Am car during the race for the copper key.
- There's Something About Mary: While Parzival is getting ready for his date, Aech disses his "Something About Mary hair."
- Spaceballs: Eagle 5 can be seen in Aech's garage.
- Spawn: The titular character can be seen in the Distracted Globe And later during the final battle.
- Splash: The movie's title appears among a jumble of notes in Wade's Notebook.
- Star Wars: An X-Wing can be seen flying to the Distracted Globe. R2-D2 also appears as a toy model in Wade and Samantha's Apartment. When Wade completes the copper key race, Anorak congratulates him and says "nice racing, young Padawan". Parzival wears Han Solo's Belt along with his holster. Sorrento says he owns a Millenium Falcon. A Return of the Jedi poster is displayed on the outside The Overlook movie theater.
- Superman: Parzival dresses up as Clark Kent (much to his dismay). The Iron Giant uses his body as a bridge, mirroring Superman's actions in the first film, and fulfilling the Iron Giant's desire from his own film to be like Superman.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: All four of the Ninja Turtles (mirroring their appearances from the 2014 film) appear during the final battle.
- The Terminator: The iron giant does a Thumbs up when he melts in the lava, a callback to the T-800 melting in a fire and doing a Thumbs up before burning.
- Trolls: Princess Poppy makes a cameo in this film.
- War of the Worlds: Nolan Sorrento and i-R0k's meeting takes place in the wreckage of a Marian ship.
- WarGames: One of the computers in Halliday's childhood bedroom is an IMSAI 8080. A WarGames poster can be seen Displayed at the Overlook Theater outside of The Shining Simulation.
- Weird Science:The Rocket used in the Film can be seen sitting on a table in Aech's Apartment. A Weird Science Poster can be seen draped over a Chair in the Halliday Scholar Room.
- E.T: The Extra Terrestrial: A Halliday Scholar can be examining the Goodbye Scene on his computer.
- Batteries Not Included: The Tenement Building can be seen in the background of The Copper Key Race.
- Flash Gordon (1980 Film): A Flash Gordon Poster can be seen displayed outside of the Overlook Theater in The Shining Simulation.
- The Burbs: The Film is Archived on VHS when The Curator projects films that Halliday has seen through his life.
- Monty Python: Meaning Of Life: Part of Halliday's archived VHS collection.
- Airplane!: A VHS cassette tape of Airplane! can both be seen on the floor in Aech's Apartment and as part of Halliday's archived films.
- The Neverending Story: The 1984 Film is written down as a clue for the Crystal Key in Samantha's Notebook.
- The Lost Boys: A VHS Of The Lost Boys is a part of Halliday's archived movie collection. The film's poster was also parodied for promotional material.
- Better Off Dead: it is written down as a Great Film in Halliday's Childhood Bedroom Recreation.
- Big Trouble in Little China: The 1985 Freightliner Truck can be spotted as an obstacle during the race for the Copper Key.
- 2000 A.D.: Art3mis uses Judge Dredd's Lawgiver as well as a Magnum Pistol from Halo during the shootout at the Distracted Globe.
- The Chronicles of Narnia: Miraz's Castle appears on a whiteboard behind the Halliday Scholars as a possible location for the third key challenge.
- DC Comics: A Wonder Woman sticker is seen on Art3mis' Akira bike. Two Wonder Woman patches (one of her logo and another of the character with her arms crossed) and a Supergirl patch appear on Helen's jacket. Deathstroke, Joker, and Harley Quinn are seen in the Distracted Globe. Supergirl appears at a table in Holliday Journals. Parzival disguises himself as Clark Kent. During the final battle, Joker appears as part of Spawn's clan, Zod makes a brief appearance fighting a skeleton from Jason and the Argonauts, and Batgirl appears during the montage of player deaths caused by the Cataclyst. Aquaman, Blue Beetle, Deadshot, Flash, and Nightwing also appear during the final battle. A random person in Ohio is wearing a Flash T-shirt. Wade mentions Lex Luthor to Art3mis. Raven can be seen as graffiti on one of the Stacks buildings.
- Dune: While in Aech's workshop, Parzival talks to Art3mis about how quickly a Harkonenn Drop Ship can travel to Arrakis.
- Hamlet: When i-R0k holds up The Steampunk Pirate's skull, he utters a variaton of the line Prince Hamlet delivers while holding Yorick's skull.
- Garfield: A Garfield sticker is seen inside Wade's hideout van.
- Hägar the Horrible: The titular character is briefly seen in the Distracted Globe.
- The Hitchiker's Guide To The Galaxy: The clue to the third challenge mentions the ultimate number, which is 42 (as it is in the book). Shortly afterward, the movie's title appears among several others in Wade's notebook.
- Homestuck: Supposedly, Dave Strider appears in the Distracted Globe scene and in the final battle. Terezi Pyrope does also supposedly first seen in the Distracted Globe then again in the final battle.
- Image Comics: Spawn leads one of the clans in the final battle.
- The Lord of the Rings: Gandalf is seen in the Distracted Globe. A Cave Troll can be during the final battle in the Oasis. Aech uses an Orc as his selected Oasis avatar. The Battle of Helm's Deep is scribbled in Wade's notebook. A whiteboard behind a female Halliday Scholar lists Isengard and Minas the names of potential locations for the third challenge.
- Marvel Comics: Peter Parker and Bruce Banner are mentioned by Parzival.
- Nancy Drew: While searching through Sorrento's files, Art3mis stumbles across his copy of "The Complete Nancy Drew."
- The War of the Worlds: Nolan Sorrento and i-R0k's meeting takes place in the wreckage of a Marian ship.
- Watchmen: A Watchmen Smiley can be seen as a sticker in Wade's hideout van.
- Apple: A Macintosh computer is in Wade's possession while he's in his hideout.
- Ask Jeeves: The Curator is a robotic version of the web site's mascot.
- Bigfoot: Aech drives the vehicle on the OASIS racetrack.
- Charleston Chew: A wrapper of the snack can be seen on the floor in Wade's Van.
- Cap'n Crunch: A Cap'n Crunch box is sitting at the bar where Parzival and Aech talk about Art3mis.
- Cheetos: A packet of Cheetos can be seen on the floor in Wade's Van.
- Chuck E. Cheese: Parzival says Halliday's favorite restaurant was Chuck E. Cheese.
- Dungeons & Dragons: A twenty-sided die pin appears on Holliday's lapel during his will & testament video. Despite its name, the Orb of Osuvox is also in the shape of a twenty-sided die. There's also a Dungeons & Dragons store in the OASIS Mall. The back door of Helen's van features the demonic face from The Tomb of Horrors (which was the location of the first key challenge in the book). During his rallying speech, Parzival mentions the Goldmines of Gygax, a reference to the game's co-creator Gary Gygax.
- Emoji: When Aech shoots an OASIS user in the PVP Zone an Emoji pops out of him along with credits. A crying emoji can be seen as an Avatar when Wade enters Halliday Journals.
- Fruit Loops/Rocks: A Halliday Scholar can be seen examining the Cereal on his Computer.
- Garbage Pail Kids: Lots of Garbage Pail Kids cards are stuck on the wall of Wade's hideout in The Stacks. A Clark Can't/Nat Nerd Sticker is stuck on the wall in Helen's postal van.
- Hello Kitty: The titular character, Kerropi, and Badtz-Maru can be briefly seen in the Oasis. A sticker decal of the titular character can also be seen on Art3mis' bike. Hello Kitty can be seen sitting on a table in Halliday Journals.
- Hot Pockets: An IOI Drone can briefly be seen delivering the food to a stacks person.
- Hot Wheels: A part of The Oasis Copper Key race includes a Hot Wheels-inspired ramp.
- Lazer Tag: The 1980s Lazer Tag game can be seen in Aech's garage. Parzival also draws a starlight pistol when he and Art3mis are ambushed in the Distracted Globe .
- Madballs: Repville appears as graffiti on the side of one of the Stacks buildings. Art3mis throws a bomb in the image of Dust Brain into Mechagodzilla's cockpit.
- M&M's: An M&M's wrapper an be seen on the floor in Wade's Stacks hideout.
- Magic 8 Ball: A camera resembling a Magic 8 Ball is used to record Parzival's broadcast.
- Nerf: A Nerf blaster can be seen in Aech's garage. There's also a Nerf kiosk is the OASIS Mall.
- Pizza Hut: A drone delivers some Pizza Hut food to people in the stacks.
- Rubik's Cube: The Zemeckis Cube, an object which Parzival buys in the OASIS Mall and uses in the Distracted Globe, is based on this.
- Simon: The game is seen as a pin on James Halliday's jacket. The game also appears next to a young Halliday while he's building his first computer, and again in his childhood bedroom.
- Tab: The now discontinued soft drink is mentioned by Sorrento while trying to impress Wade.
- Tootsie Pop: During his initial meeting with Sorrento i-R0k's references the candy company's TV commercials.
- Twitch: Parzival says he's seen all of Art3mis’ Twitch streams when seeing her during the race.
- Warhammer 40,000: an Eldar Warrior is seen during the final battle. When the Halliday Scholars are brainstorming possible locations for the third challenge, Angran's Castle is listed on a whiteboard as one of many possible locations for the third challenge.
- ALF: A 1986 ALF toy is seen on the back corner shelf of Aech's apartment.
- The A-Team: The A-Team van is seen as one of the vehicles in the OASIS racetrack. It's driver is one of the Halo Elites.
- Batman (1966 series): The Batmobile from the show is seen as one of the vehicles in the OASIS racetrack And later appears sliding off the road with a brief moment with the theme song playing.
- Battlestar Galactica: While in Aech's workshop, Wade shows Art3mis Aech's copy of the titular spacecraft. A Colonial Viper fighter is also visible in the workshop. During the final battle, Parzival uses a blaster from the series to zero Art3mis. Colonial Force Patches can be seen on Helen's Jacket.
- Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: A Thunderfighter appears in Aech's garage.
- Cowboy Bebop: The Swordfish 2 can be seen on the official poster for Ready Player One. A miniature version of Swordfish 2 can be seen on the work table of Aech's garage. The Spaiders from Mars is also one of OASIS interest place, that Parzival called the Casino.
- Dr. Who: A TARDIS appears in Aech's garage. While Parzival is disguising himself as Clark Kent, Art3mis holds up two of the Tenth Doctor's suits.
- Exo Squad: A PO-024 Field Repair E-frame appears in Aech's garage and later during the final battle on Planet Doom.
- Firefly: Daito is seen arriving at the final battle on Serenity.
- Fraggle Rock: An image of the show can be seen briefly on a box containing miniature ships inside Aech's workshop.
- Garfield And Friends: Stickers from The Cartoon can be seen stuck to the wall of Wade's Van.
- He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe: Wade puts his glasses on a Vintage He-Man Lunchbox. Inside of Halliday Journals, Parzival passes a recreation of young Halliday in his room and next to the TV is a Castle Grayskull Playset. He-Man appears in the final battle as part of Spawn's clan.
- Knight Rider: Parzival's DeLorean is outfitted with KITT. KITT also appears as a car on the racetrack. A Knight Rider poster appears on the wall in Halliday's childhood bedroom recreation.
- Looney Tunes: Marvin the Martian appears running out of an entry portal when Wade is introducing the OASIS, appears again in Halliday Journals, and makes a final appearance as a toy form in James Halliday's childhood bedroom. A Looney Tunes shop can be seen in the OASIS Mall with a hologram of Marvin.
- Lost In Space: When Halliday tries to find the Easter Egg in his childhood bedroom he picks up a toy of the B-9 Robot.
- Mobile Suit Gundam: The RX-78-2 Gundam mech is seen during the final battle in the Oasis.
- The Muppet Show: A stuffed Kermit the Frog can be seen sitting on a box in Aech's apartment.
- Schoolhouse Rock: The clue to the third challenge references the song "Three is the Magic Number."
- Sesame Street: A Cookie Monster Cookie Jar can be seen on the table in Aech's apartment when Wade tries on the Purple Rain outfit.
- Speed Racer: The Mach 5 is one of the vehicles in the Oasis racetrack.
- Star Trek: In Anorak's Invitation video, it is shown James Halliday having a Star Trek-themed funeral complete with a photon torpedo casing as a coffin and flowers arranged in the shape of the Starfleet logo and the Enterprise. A bat'leth sits on the windowsill of Wade and Samantha's apartment.
- Thundercats: Parzival wears a Han Solo belt with the Thundercats logo on the buckle. There's also a Lion-O patch next to the Wonder Woman logo on Helen's jacket.
- Transformers (1984 Cartoon): Optimus Prime in his G1 Variant can be seen charging towards Castle Anorak when Avatars run over the hill on Planet Doom. Megatron can be seen as a selectable mech on the Mech Selection List that Sorrento chooses from.
- Voltron: Planet Doom is referenced several times throughout the film, and is the setting of both Aech's PVP fight and the final battle. The Red Lion appears during the final battle.
- A-ha: An orchestral version of "Take On Me" is played in the "Dreamers" fim trailer. "Take On Me" is also Halliday's favorite music video.
- Akira Ifukube: A remixed version of "Godzilla Main Title" plays when Sorrento summons Mechagodzilla.
- Alan Silvestri: "Back to the Future Theme" is played after Parzival using Zemeckis Cube, the theme also heard in the trailer when the screen says "March 30"
- The Bee Gees: "Stayin' Alive" is played during Parzival and Art3mis' dance routine.
- Blondie: "One Way or Another" plays when Parzival returns to Halliday Journals after collecting the copper key.
- Billy Idol: His Mony Mony album appears on Halliday's desk when he's telling Morrow about his date with Karen.
- Bruce Springsteen: "Stand On It" is played during Parzival and Aech visiting OASIS Mall.
- The Buggles: While Art3mis and Parzival are talking in Aech's garage they mention that "Video Killed The Radio Star" is Halliday's favorite song.
- Dead Kennedys: The band's logo appears on the back of the punk outfit Parzival tries on before his date. Later, two Dead Kennedys patches appear on the front of Helen's jacket.
- Depeche Mode: "World In My Eyes" is played at the official trailer of Ready Player One, but instead using the original version, the trailer using the Cicada Mix version.
- Devo: The bartender at the Distracted Globe is wearing a Devo hat.
- Duran Duran: Before going to the Distracted Globe, Parzival tries out a suit worn by Nick Rhodes in one of the band's better-known publicity photos. Sorrento later tells Wade that he likes to relax by drinking Tab, playing Robotron, and listening to Duran Duran.
- Earth Wind & Fire: "Can't Hide Love" plays when Art3mis ask Parzival for a date (?) in the Distracted Globe.
- Gene Wilder: An orchestral version of "Pure Imagination" plays in the Comic-Con film trailer and another composed by Ghostwriter in the "Come with Me" trailer.
- George Michael: "Faith" is played when Parzival first enters Halliday Journals.
- Hall & Oates: "You Make My Dreams Come True" is played during the credits. Spielberg selected it after learning it was the song that Ernest Cline and his wife walked down the aisle to at their wedding.
- Hatsune Miku: The titular character is seen in [the Distracted Globe.
- Joan Jett: "I Hate Myself For Loving You" plays before the OASIS race begins.
- Johann Sebastian Bach: "Toccata and Fugue in D minor" plays while Halliday rises from his coffin to recite his will.
- Joy Division: When Wade first meets Art3mis/Samantha in real life, she's wearing a Joy Division shirt.
- Michael Jackson: Parzival tries out Michael Jackson's Thriller outfit before going to the Distracted Globe.
- New Order: "Blue Monday" is played at the Distracted Globe when Parzival enters and meets Art3mis there. Toward the end of the film, Ms. Gilmore is seen wearing a shirt with the cover art for Technique.
- Pink Floyd: Marching hammers are seen in the final battle.
- The Police: Ms. Gilmore wears a shirt with the cover art of the album Synchronicity.
- Prince: Before going to the Distracted Globe, Parzival tries out Prince's Purple Rain outfit.
- RUSH: "Tom Sawyer" can be heard during one of the trailers for Ready Player One. A poster of the album and a vinyl album itself appears in James Halliday's childhood bedroom. Helen wears a 2112 shirt.
- Stormzy: "Big for Your Boots" plays during Aech's chat session.
- Tears for Fears: "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" plays when Parzival telling about Halliday's history about making the OASIS.
- The Temptations: "Just My Imagination" plays in Aech's garage.
- Twisted Sister: "We're Not Gonna Take It" is heard during the final battle when Parzival plays it out of a boombox.
- Van Halen: "Jump" opens up the movie when Wade is climbing down the stacks.
- Wendy Carlos & Rachel Elkind: "The Shining Theme" plays when the High Five's entering "The Shining" simulation for the second key.
- Ernest Cline's birthday is March 29, the same date the film Ready Player One was released in the United States.
- In an interview with several media, Steven Spielberg said that Ready Player One was the third most difficult movie he has made on his career, besides Jaws (1975) and Saving Private Ryan (1998).
- The sixer vehicles have QR codes on their bonnets that, when scanned, lead to http://www.jointhequest.io; the Innovative Online Industries recruitment site.
- Movie concept art of Ready Player One were by Eduardo Pena, Emmanuel Shiu, Valentin Petrov, Ulrich Zeidler and Gaëlle Seguillon
- The WarGames Simulation featured in the Novel was actually seriously considered early on but got scrapped since it wouldn't fit right.
- Steven Spielberg described that he wanted the musical score for when Wade first dives into the OASIS in the movie to be "religioso". To achieve this Spielberg and film composer Alan Silvestri draw inspiration from the film's second clue and looked into what "Easter Egg" was in Latin ("Ovum patris tui"). Liking the concept the musical score was accompanied by a choir reciting the film's second clue in Latin with the chorus being "Father's egg, Easter egg, find me, come find me."
- Written Down in Samantha's Notebook is an option for a Vehicle for the Copper Key Race: Deckard's Spinner this is one of the few Blade Runner References beside Wade and Toshiro's Replicant Eyes During Sorrento's interogation and a Blade Runner VHS Cassette Tape Archived at Halliday Journals.
- Items included in I-r0k's pile of loot are Perseus's Shield from the 1980 film Clash Of The Titans, VHS cassette tapes of Scarface, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure and Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, and Sledge's shotgun from the 2012 video game Borderlands.
- Films archived at Halliday Journals include Back To The Future and Back To The Future: Part II, E.T: the Extra-Terrestrial, Breakfast Club, Firestarter, The Fly (1986 remake), Say Anything..., Blade Runner, Risky Business, Arthur, all the Richard Donner Superman movies, and more.