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Your essential 80s pop culture guide to Ready Player One


Based on Ernest Cline’s book of the same name, Ready Player One is packed with more 80s references than you could shake a DeLorean at.

Directed by popcorn supremo Steven Spielberg, himself a dominant 80s force with the likes of E.T. and Indiana Jones, the movie revolves around the hunt for an Easter Egg hidden within an immersive virtual reality video game. The late creator of the game known as the “Oasis”, James Halliday, was a big fan of popular culture, particularly from the 1980s, and he's laced his creation with all kinds of sights and sounds from the decade.

Not sure where to start when it comes to the 1980s? We've got all your need-to-knows, right here…


A great place to start would be brushing up on some 1980s movies. If you’ve been putting off that John Hughes movie marathon, now would be a great time to correct that, and watch classics such as The Breakfast Club (pictured below), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Weird Science, all of which are referenced in Cline's book.

One of the most thrilling moments from the Ready Player One trailer was the sight of a DeLorean competing in a street racing style event. The DeLorean was of course the famous time machine from the Back to the Future movies, so rewatching the trilogy is an absolute must.

Similarly, the famous bike from anime classic Akira also makes an appearance in this sequence, and with its dystopian themes it is also the perfect film to get you in the mood for Ready Player One.


Eighties music features heavily in Ready Player One, so dust off your cassettes and get ahead of the game with a totally bitchin’ mixtape.

In the latter half of the trailer you can hear the song ‘Tom Sawyer’ by Rush, and Rush’s music features heavily in the the book. The lyrics to tracks from their 1976 album ‘2112’ form an important clue in the hunt for Halliday’s Egg.

The progressive album tells the story of a dystopian world in the year “2112”, so it is perfectly in-keeping with Ready Player One’s themes. With further references to David Bowie, Blondie, New Order (namely their pulsating classic 'Blue Monday'), and Duran Duran, it is pretty much a guarantee that the movie is going to have one awesome soundtrack.


Ready Player One has a diverse range of pop culture references – from other dystopian stories to classic literature and comic books, nothing is off limits.

Some of the key ones to read ahead of the movie are Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, and the books of Kurt Vonnegut. In the book, the hero and central character Wade Watts names his spaceship Vonnegut, so it is possible the film may also include some references to the late author.

Also, ticking the film/book reference box, one of the clues is accessed by finding a Voight-Kampff machine. It's the interrogation device from Blade Runner, itself based on the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?.


With Ready Player One's story involving an immersive video game, there are of course tons of references to classic retro arcade games. One of the key additions is Joust, the 2D classic which involves knights riding flying ostriches (yes you did hear that correctly!). The trailer also shows a more action-packed version of the game, and this is something we cannot wait to see.

Whilst the book focuses more on classic games such as Space Invaders, Pac-Man and Galaga, it appears the film may also be throwing in some more modern references. The eagle-eyed may have spotted small details such as the assault weapon fron Halo, and it's likely the film will have a whole lot more to offer if the trailer is anything to go by.

What 80s references did you spot in the Ready Player One trailer? With the film out on 30th March 2018 there's plenty of time to tweet your own Easter eggs @Cineworld.

Don't forget that Spielberg's next movie, The Post, is released on 19th January 2018. Check out the trailer here.

Sarah Buddery is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.