A river of words flowed between us.
One person can keep a secret, but not two.
In the year 2045, much of Earth's population centers have become slum-like cities due to overpopulation, pollution, corruption, and climate change. To escape their desolation, people engage in the virtual reality world of the OASIS (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation), where they can engage in numerous activities for work, education, and entertainment.
Wade Watts (Sheridan) is a teenage Gunter (short for "egg hunter") from Columbus, Ohio who frequents the OASIS and attempts to win "Anorak's Quest," a game created by the deceased creator of the OASIS, James Halliday (Rylance), by finding the Easter Eggs. The winner is to be granted full ownership of the OASIS, among other things.
Wade, as his avatar Parzival, and Aech (Waithe), a tall muscular man who works as a virtual mechanic, frequently meet in-game to take part in the first of three trials in the Quest, each granting a key. The first trial is a street race through a constantly-shifting city that was discovered by a Gunter in 2040. The race is filled with hazards such as shifting roads, wrecking balls, spikes, and King Kong, alongside facing other players in the race, with nobody having reached the finish line. In the latest race, Wade stops another famous player, Art3mis (Cooke) from being "zeroed out" aka dying in-game.
Later that night, Parzival heads to the virtual Halliday Archives, a library with 3D recordings of most of Halliday's life and work. Wade notices in the memory regarding the resignation of Ogden Morrow (Pegg), former partner of Halliday, where Halliday emphasizes wishing he could "go in reverse" and take back the situation. Wade believes this to be a clue on how to beat the street race, and after all the other cars drive, he reverses into the back of the race track, revealing a secret path that bypasses all the obstacles. He reaches the finish line as the avatar of Anorak congratulates him, handing over the Copper Key and a clue to the next trial.
Parzival becomes infamous overnight for appearing on the global scoreboard keeping track of the hunt, shortly being followed by Art3mis (who sees Wade reversing in the previous race), Aech (whom Wade gave a hint to), and brothers Daito and Shoto. This group then become known as the "High Five." Art3mis accompanies Parzival to the virtual Archives again and they find a possible clue involving the mention of a woman named Kira, with Wade winning a bet he had placed with the Curator, who believed Kira’s name to have been completely wiped from the Archives by Halliday. Although, they are not able to find a clue Parzival begins talking more to Art3mis, eventually declaring his feelings for her when he reveals his name to her. This is overheard by i-R0k, a freelance bounty hunter for Innovative Online Industries, or IOI, an evil virtual reality equipment corporation that controls people's access to the OASIS, who informs Nolan Sorrento, the CEO of IOI, of their location as several IOI employees known as Sixers begin an assault on the club. Parcival and Art3mis escape by using a magic item, the Zemeckis Cube that reverses time for one minute. i-R0k uses Wade's name to discover his true identity and location, which Sorrento the uses to offer him an ultimatum of joining him or facing repercussions. When Wade refuses, Sorrento sends Zandor (John-Kamen) to destroy Wade's home, killing his aunt and her boyfriend.
Wade is saved by an associate of Art3mis', who brings him to a Gunter hideout in central Columbus where Art3mis reveals herself in person as Samantha. While talking to Wade, Samantha is able to understand what the 2nd clue meant. The High Five then ask the Curator to be allowed access to Halliday's memory of his date with Kira, which turns out to be the entrance to the second quest, where the group must survive the events of The Shining while trying to find Kira and dance with her. Each of the High Fives succeeds one by one, gaining the Jade Key from Anorak and the clue to the third and final quest. The four learn that the final quest is on Planet Doom, the most dangerous planet in the game and also the location of Castle Anorak.
Meanwhile, in the real world, Zandor locates the hideout, starting a raid and capturing Samantha. Wade is saved by the real world players of Daito, Shoto, and Aech, who is actually a female lesbian that hid her identity after being kicked out by her homophobic family. They remain on the move in Aech's van, which has several OASIS rigs tethered in the back, which the group use as they move to Planet Doom. IOI also discover this, having traced the High Five's trip to the Archives. Sorrento has i-R0k activate the Orb, an icosahedron-shaped magic item that creates an impenetrable shield around the castle while IOI attempt the third quest inside by themselves. Samantha is taken to an indentured servitude camp in IOI's main building, locked inside a box and OASIS rig and forced to work inside the shield. While inside, she is able to deactivate the Orb while Wade sends out a message to every player in the OASIS, calling them to open war against IOI on Planet Doom, blaming IOI for the destruction of the slums.
The battle begins as the High Five and other players use every weapon and item at their disposal to kill IOI's sixers. Aech uses the Iron Giant she has created as well as Daito's Gundam to defeat Sorrento's Mechagodzilla. Wade locates the Sixers under the castle partway through the third quest, in the midst of their attempts to find and complete the correct Atari 2600 game from Halliday's childhood library. Playing an incorrect game causes the player to fall through the ice and zero out. The IOI find the correct game, a copy of Adventure, however winning the game still zeroes out the sixer playing it.
Seeing that IOI is losing the battle and that Wade has made it to the Atari room, Sorrento detonates the Cataclyst, a magic item that zeroes out every player on Planet Doom, including the High Five, i-R0k, and Sorrento himself. Everyone is stunned however when Parzival regenerates, the result of the quarter he won in the bet with the Curator. Parzival soon deduces that the key to beating the third quest is not by winning Adventure, but by finding its own Easter Egg, the first of its kind to be created. Wade succeeds and meets Anorak yet again, who gives him the Crystal Key.
Wade inserts the three keys into a gate, revealing a room where Anorak offers him a contract to sign, completing the quest. Wade refuses, however, recognizing the contract as the same as Morrow's when he left the company, believing correctly that this was a test. Anorak says he had to be sure, as he changes form into Halliday, who offers that - that moment was his biggest regret in life. Halliday shows Wade the Big Red Button, which he can use to permanently delete the OASIS should he feel like it is the right decision. He then finally hands Wade the golden Easter Egg itself, granting Wade full control over the OASIS. Sorrento and Zandor are shortly thereafter arrested.
Wade decides to split his win between the Big Five, stating that working together is the best option for the OASIS moving forward in order to avoid repeating history. Ogden Morrow soon joins them as a consultant, with a salary of one quarter, revealing himself to have been the Curator. The group ban IOI's indentured servitude scheme, drastically altering IOI as a company, as well as vow to shut down the OASIS on Tuesdays and Thursdays so that people spend more time in the real world. Wade and Samantha start a relationship in the real world, getting an apartment together.
- Tye Sheridan as Wade Owen Watts, a Gunter who lived with his Aunt who is searching for the Egg, Art3mis/Samantha's love interest
- Olivia Cooke as Samantha Evelyn Cook, a popular Gunter, and blogger and the main love interest of Wade
- Ben Mendelsohn as Nolan Sorrento, the corrupt CEO of IOI intend on killing Wade and his friends when the latter refuses an offer to join the company on the hunt for Halliday's Easter Egg
- T.J Miller as "i-R0k," a mysterious blogger
- Simon Pegg as Ogden "Og" Morrow, the co-founder of the OASIS
- Mark Rylance as James Donovan Halliday, the billionaire founder of the OASIS
- Win Morisaki as Toshiro Yoshiaki, Wade's friend
- Lena Waithe as Helen Harris, Wade's best friend
- Hannah John-Kamen as F'Nale Zandor, the leader of the Sixers
- Philip Zhao as Akihide Karatsu, Wade's friend
- Ralph Ineson as Rick, Aunt Alice's boyfriend
- Letitia Wright as Reb
- Mckenna Grace as an OASIS civilian
- Simone Kirby as Loretta
- Mark Rylance as Anorak
- Simon Pegg as the Great and Powerful Og, Ogden's OASIS avatar
- Tye Sheridan as Parzival, Wade's OASIS avatar
- Olivia Cooke as Art3mis, Samantha's OASIS avatar
- Ben Mendelsohn as IOI-655321, Nolan's OASIS avatar
- Win Morisaki as Daito, Toshiro's OASIS avatar
In June 2010, the same day Cline finalized his publishing deal with Random House, the film rights to this film were purchased by Warner Bros. Donald De Line signed on to produce with Cline adapting his own novel into a screenplay (Eric Eason and Zak Penn assisted Cline with rewrites), and in March 2015 Steven Spielberg signed on to direct.
In September 2015, the first cast member, Olivia Cooke, was announced to be joining as Art3mis. January 9, 2016, the second cast member, Ben Mendelsohn, was announced to be joining as Nolan Sorrento, February 24, 2016, the third cast member, Tye Sheridan, was announced to be joining as Wade Owen Watts. March 17, 2016, the fourth cast member, Simon Pegg, was announced to be joining as Ogden Morrow but is cast as Simon Pegg currently. April 13, 2016, the fifth cast member, Mark Rylance, was announced to be joining as James Donovan Halliday. June 1, 2016, the sixth cast member, T.J Miller, was announced to be joining as iR0-k. June 5, 2016, the seventh cast member, Win Morisaki was announced to be joining as Toshiro Yoshiaki. July 29, 2016, the eighth cast member, Philip Zhao was announced to be joining as Akihide Karatsu.
Production was slated to begin July 2016. Screenwriter Zak Penn tweeted on July 1, 2016, that the first week of filming was completed. Filming took place early September 2016 in the Jewellery Quarter and Digbeth areas of Birmingham, England with the setting in grungy dystopian Ohio.
List of References
- Pac-Man: A Pac-Man tabletop can be seen in Aech’s hangout. A High School student watching 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.
- Q*bert: A Q*bert sticker can be seen in Wade's hideout van.
- Adventure: Playing Adventure and finding Warren Robbinet’s name is the task for the final challenge.
- Asteroids: James Halliday wears an Asteroids t-shirt. Asteroids are one of the games IOI attempt to play but fail.
- Defenders: Defenders is suggested that the Sixer should play on the Atari 2600 but instantly gets dismissed.
- Swordquest: Swordquest is suggested that a Sixer should play but instantly gets dismissed.
- Joust: The knight on the ostrich is seen in the crowd of Oasis civilians during the final battle. In Aech's basement, there is an Arcade cabinet of Joust. A poster of Joust can be seen in James Halliday’s bedroom. A sticker of the logo of Joust can be seen as a sticker on Wade’s OASIS Visor. One of the pop-culture experts working for IOI suggests they should play Joust for the final challenge.
- 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.
- Centipede: A scorpion can be seen taking out the knight on the ostrich and carrying its rider. A centipede Arcade cabinet can be seen in Aech's basement. A Sixer tries playing Centipede on the Atari 2600 but fails.
- 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. 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. and Cammy can be seen getting zeroed out by the catalyst
- Battletoads: Zitz, Rash, and Pimple are seen in the crowd of Oasis civilians during the final battle. A battletoad can earlier be seen entering the OASIS and later in the distracted globe nightclub.
- Duke Nukem: Duke Nukem is one of the Oasis civilians taken out by Aech during the PvP fight.
- Tomb Raider: Lara Croft is seen in The Distracted Globe and later during the final battle.
- Battleborn: Attikus can be seen walking in the Oasis. El Dragon 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.
- Borderlands: A Borderlands stall can be seen in the Oasis mall.
- Mass Effect: The male and female versions of Commander Shepard are seen at The Distracted Globe and later during the final battle.
- 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 Gee's 'Staying Alive.'
- Mortal Kombat: Raiden, Cassie Cage, Kitana, and Scorpion are seen in the crowd of Oasis civilians during the final battle. Sub-Zero and Johnny Cage are seen walking on the Oasis racetrack. Liu Kang can be seen being killed by Aech during the PvP fight. A Mortal Kombat sticker can be seen on Akihide’s shirt. Art3mis disguises herself as Goro along with a Chestbuster from Alien which pops out of her.
- Halo: Master Chief, a group of Spartans, Arbiters and an Elite are seen in the final battle. When Aech is in the PvP zone, he uses aN Assault Riffle. During the final battle, Parzival is seen summoning an SPNKR Rocket Launcher from the first three games. In the Oasis Mall, a Halo stall can be seen.
- Mario Kart: Aech mentions Mario Kart while talking to Wade.
- Minecraft: One of the many locations introduced in the OASIS is a Minecraft planet.
- Sonic the Hedgehog: The titular character can be seen both waiting for an OASIS portal and attacking a Sixer during the final battle.
- 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.
- The 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 appears during the PvP fight being shot by Aech. Harley Quinn can be seen in the Distracted Globe numerous times and they appear during the final battle with her mallet.
- Starcraft: Jim Raynor appears as Rick's avatar in the PVP Zone. A Protoss is briefly seen walking behind Hello Kitty and her friends.
- 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.
- "five nights at freddy's: Nightmare Bonny is seen behind John Bender
- 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.
- 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.
- Back to the Future: Parzival is seen driving a DeLorean time machine. 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 Art3mis 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.
- Akira: Art3mis drives Shotaro Kaneda's motorcycle.
- Buckaroo Banzai: Parzival dresses up in Buckaroo's suit at the Distracted Globe.
- Chappie: The titular character can be seen during the final battle jumping off an icy hill.
- King Kong: King Kong is seen as one of the stage hazards in the Oasis racetrack.
- 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 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 running with Stripe. A poster of the film can be seen in Wade's hideout van.
- Conan the Barbarian: The titular character is briefly seen in The Distracted Globe And later during the final battle.
- Aliens: Ellen Ripley in her yellow mech suit can first be seen in a PvP fight and later during the final battle with a Xenomorph. Art3mis (Disguised as Goro) pulls a prank on Wade and makes a Chest buster pop out of her. Art3mis also uses Ellen Ripley‘s Grenade Launcher to kill Sixers.
- Batman: The Batman logo can be seen as a sticker on Wade's Oasis 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. A Mini-Batman sticker can be seen on Akihide's Oasis visor. Catwoman an 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. Ace chemicals can be seen as a sign on a building in the copper key racetrack.
- Christine: The titular car can be seen amongst other famous vehicles in the Oasis racetrack.
- Army of Darkness : The Deadites are seen in the Oasis battlefield.
- Superman: Parzival dresses up as Clark Kent. Zod can briefly be seen during the final battle fighting a skeleton from Jason and the Argonauts.
- Child's Play: Chucky is amongst the Oasis civilians seen during the final battle.
- Say Anything...: Parzival is seen holding the boombox from the film.
- Spawn: The titular character can be seen in The Distracted Globe And later during the final battle.
- The 7th Voyage of Sinbad: The Cyclops can be seen during the final battle and can also be seen walking around the Oasis.
- 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.
- Transformers film series: Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and Nitro Zeus are seen amongst the crowd of Oasis civilians during the final battle. Megatron and Sentinel Prime are seen transforming into vehicle mode on the Oasis racetrack. Onslaught can be seen entering a PvP Portal in the Oasis.
- Star Wars: A group of Stormtroopers can be seen working together with the Spartans during the final battle. an X-Wing can be seen flying to the Distracted Globe. R2-D2 and C-3PO can briefly be seen in the stands of the copper key racetrack when Wade enters the Location. An 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: well done my Padawan. Parzival wears Han Solo’s Belt along with his Holster.
- Godzilla: Mechagodzilla is piloted by Sorrento in the final battle. A toy model of Godzilla can be seen in James Halliday’s bedroom.
- 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.
- Gremlins: 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. Stripe can be seen running with Freddy Kruger during the final battle.
- War of the Worlds: A Tripod is seen during the final battle. Nolan Sorrento and I-ROK‘s meeting setting is a crashed Martian ship.
- Indiana Jones: The titular character is seen during the final battle. 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 bedroom.
- The Shining: There is a Flicksync based on the movie that acts as a quest.
- National Lampoon's Vacation: The Griswold Family Truckster can briefly be seen in the Oasis race when Art3mis skids past on her Akira bike.
- Labyrinth: There is a poster of the film in Wade's hideout van.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2010s films): All of the Ninja Turtles (from the 2014 film) appear during the final battle slicing Sixers with their weapons.
- Scream (1996): Ghostface is seen in the final battle, Sydney Prescott is seen entering the OASIS
- Saturday Night Fever: There are multiple mini-dance floors based on the film in The Distracted Globe.
- The Terminator films: 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.
- Jason and the Argonauts: The Living Skeletons can be seen during the final battle.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze: Tokka is seen during the final battle.
- Robocop: The ED-209 can be seen in Aech's garage. The titular character is briefly seen entering the Oasis. A Delta City billboard can briefly be seen in the course of the copper key racetrack.
- Spaceballs: Eagle 5 can be seen in Aech's garage.
- Pee-Wee's Big Adventure: Pee-Wee's bicycle can be seen in Aech's garage.
- 2001: A Space Odyssey: The Space Pod can be seen in Aech's garage.
- 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. Nolan Sorrento mentions the film.
- The Goonies: The Goonies logo is printed on a James Halliday Newspaper Article. Sloth can be seen during the final battle. An IOI pop-culture nerd can be seen watching a Goonies scene with Mikey on his computer.
- Beetlejuice: Beetlejuice appears in Haliday Journals being a fan of Parzival.
- Last Action Hero: Jack Slater III is showing at the theatre.
- 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. Nolan Sorrento mentions the film.
- IT (1990): A poster of the film can be seen in Aech’s basement. Pennywise can be seen during the final battle.
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail: The Holy Hand Grenade was seen at the Oasis Mall as one of the artifacts tha have been bought by Parzival and is seen again during the final battle, being used to take out a bunch of Sixers and their portals.
- Haunted Mansion: The Ballroom scene was used in this film, but with dancing zombies replacing the dancing ghosts.
- Ladyhawke (1985): A poster of the film can be seen in Halliday's childhood bedroom.
- DC Comics: A Wonder Woman sticker is seen on Art3mis's Akira bike. Deathstroke, Doctor Fate, Poison Ivy, Killer Frost, Wonder Woman, Joker, and Harley Quinn are seen in The Distracted Globe. Batman, Deadshot, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Black Manta and Flash are seen in the crowd of Oasis civilians during the final battle. Superman and Robin are seen taking out a Sixer. The Jaime Reyes version of Blue Beetle is shown walking next to Parzival in the Oasis. A random person in Ohio is wearing a Flash t-shirt. Green Lantern can be seen being taken out by Aech in the PVP fight. Hawkman can be seen multiple times in the Oasis and later during the final battle swooping over Wade's DeLorean. Wade mentions Lex Luthor to Art3mis. Nightwing is seen walking around the Oasis after Tracer enters a PVP portal. A Wonder Woman logo badge is on Helen's jacket. Supergirl and Firestorm can be seen in a Group of people in the Oasis. A supergirl badge can be seen on Helen’s jacket. Deadshot can be seen during a PvP fight. Batgirl can briefly be seen punching Sixers before being wiped out of battle. Raven can be seen as graffiti in Ohio.
- Marvel Comics: Peter Parker and Bruce Banner are mentioned by Parzival.
- 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.
- Hägar the Horrible: The titular character is briefly seen in The Distracted Globe.
- Lady Death: The titular character is seen during the final battle.
- Garfield: A Garfield sticker is seen inside Wade's hideout van.
- Scott Pilgrim: Roxy Richter is seen during the final battle.
- Watchmen: A Watchmen Smiley can be seen as a sticker in Wade's hideout van.
- Bigfoot: Aech drives the vehicle on the Oasis racetrack.
- Simon (game): The game is seen as a pin on James Halliday's jacket. the Game of Simon appears in James Halliday’s bedroom.
- Atari 2600: The game console is hanging on a wire in Wade's hideout van. An Atari sticker is on the front of Art3mis's bike.
- Madballs: Repville is seen as graffiti in the real world of Ohio. Art3mis throws a bomb in the image of Dust Brain into Mechagodzilla's cockpit.
- 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's bike. Hello Kitty can be seen sitting on a table in Halliday Journals.
- Warhammer 40,000: Eldar is seen during the final battle.
- 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.
- Pizza Hut: A drone delivers some Pizza Hut food to people in the stacks.
- Chuck E. Cheese: Parzival says Halliday’s favorite restaurant was Chuck E. Cheese.
- Twitch: Parzival says he’s seen all of Art3mis’s Twitch streams when seeing her during the race.
- Laser Tag: The 1980's Laser Tag can be seen in Aech's garage.
- Garbage Pail Kids: Lots of Garbage Pail Kids cards are stuck on the wall of Wade's hideout van.
- 80's Snacks: In Wade's hideout van, there are wrappers of an M&M's packet and Cheeto's. In Helen’s van, there are some 80's Doritos. A snickers bar can be seen on a work table for the pop-culture nerds working for IOI. A picture of some Fruit Loops cereal boxes can be seen as photos on a computer screen in IOI.
- Sega: A Sega sticker can be seen on Art3mis's Akita bike.
- Nerf: A Nerf blaster can be seen in Aech's garage.
- Apple: A Macintosh computer is in Wade's possession while he's in his hideout.
- Gameboy: A Gameboy can be seen in Wade’s hideout van.
- Rubik Cube: In the Oasis Mall a shop named the cube with a giant Rubik cube can be seen briefly.
- Magic 8 Ball: A camera resembling a Magic 8 Ball is used to record Parzival’s broadcast.
- 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.
- Knight Rider: Parzival's DeLorean is outfitted with KITT.
- Mobile Suit Gundam: The RX-78-2 Gundam mech is seen during the final battle in the Oasis.
- 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.
- The A-Team: The A-Team van is seen as one of the vehicles in the Oasis racetrack.
- Voltron: Planet Doom is one of the PVP zones. The Red Lion can be seen during the final battle.
- Speed Racer: The Mach 5 can be seen as one of the vehicles in the Oasis racetrack.
- Thundercats: Parzival wears a belt with the Thundercats logo on the buckle.
- 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.
- Looney Tunes: Marvin the Martian appears running out of an entry portal when Wade is introducing the OASIS appears in Halliday Journals and finally appears as toy form in James Halliday‘s room.
- 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.
- Firefly: Daito is seen arriving at the final battle on Serenity.
- A-ha: An orchestral version of "Take On Me" is played in "Dreamers" trailer. "Take On Me" is also Halliday's favorite music video.
- The Bee Gees: "Stayin' Alive" is played during Parzival and Art3mis' dance routine.
- Daft Punk: "Lose Yourself to Dance" plays at The Distracted Globe.
- Stormzy: "Big for Your Boots" plays during Aech's chat session.
- The Police: Ms. Gilmore wears a shirt with the cover art of the album Synchronicity.
- Wham!: "Wake Up Before You Go-Go" is the sound of Wade's alarm clock.
- Michael Jackson: Parzival tries out a Michael Jackson outfit before going to the Distracted Globe.
- Prince: Before going to The Distracted Globe, Parzival tries out a Prince outfit.
- Pink Floyd: Marching Hammers are seen in the final battle.
- Duran Duran: Before going to The Distracted Globe, Parzival tries out a Duran Duran outfit.
- Hatsune Miku: The titular character is seen in The Distracted Globe.
- Devo: The bartender at The Distracted Globe is wearing a Devo hat.
- Van Halen: "Jump" opens up the movie when wade is climbing down the stacks.
- Joan Jett: "I Hate Myself For Loving You" played before the Oasis racetrack begin.
- RUSH: "Tom Sawyer" can be heard during the trailer for Ready Player One. A poster of the album and a vinyl album itself appears in James Halliday‘s bedroom. Helen wears a 2112 shirt.
- Twisted Sister: "We're Not Gonna Take It" is heard during the final battle when Parzival plays it out of a boombox.
- Akira Ifukube: A remixed version of "Godzilla Main Title" plays when Sorrento summons Mechagodzilla.
- The sixer vehicles have QR codes on their bonnets that, when scanned, lead to http://www.jointhequest.io; the Innovative Online Industries recruitment site.
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