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Ready Player Two - Will It Ever Happen?

In this contemporary age of blockbuster movie franchises and cinematic universes, it's almost a given that a financially and critically successful movie with an impressive pedigree is going to generate a sequel or two, and quickly. "Ready Player One" — an explosive, dystopian action-adventure about a worldwide contest set almost completely in an enchanting virtual reality gaming system called the OASIS — earned more than $500 million, impressed critics, and represented another achievement in the storied career of Steven Spielberg.

And yet, more than five years have now passed since "Ready Player One" hit theaters, and not much headway has been made on a sequel. There's even a follow-up novel by Ernest Cline, author of the book that inspired "Ready Player One," ready and ripe for adaptation. So why haven't we returned to the OASIS? Well, here are all the reasons why things are moving so maddeningly slow on the much-discussed, heavily-anticipated, and ready-to-roll sequel to "Ready Player One" called, of course, "Ready Player Two."

Why isn't Ready Player Two happening yet?

As of May 2023, IMDb doesn't list any kind of production based on "Ready Player One" or "Ready Player Two" as an active project. The last and only major announcement pertaining to a sequel came from Ernest Cline, author of the novels "Ready Player One" and "Ready Player Two," as well as a screenwriter and co-producer on the first film. 

"It's in the early stages right now," Cline told Inverse in December 2020, around the time that "Ready Player Two" first hit bookstores. Cline spoke from a place of tentativeness because in 2020 — and for some time afterward — COVID-19 shutdowns and delays threw film production into disarray. "Hollywood is in limbo right now," the author said. "But I can tell from the experience of making the first movie that everybody had a lot of fun."

The efforts and attentions of Cline and the people who make movies out of his books may be occupied by another project — a film adaptation of the author's 2015 sci-fi novel "Armada," which is much further along in pre-production than "Ready Player Two." As Cline explained, "There are new writers that I really like that are working on the script. I wrote the first few drafts of it."

What the cast has said about Ready Player Two

"Ready Player One" provided a huge jumpstart to the careers of its two lead actors, Tye Sheridan (who played Wade Watts and his online avatar Parzival) and Olivia Cooke (co-starring as Samantha Cook/Art3mis). So needless to say, after the film's success, both actors have entertained questions about when cameras will roll on the next movie adaptation. 

"People keep asking me, and I would love to have an answer for you," Sheridan told ComicBook.com in 2020. However, the actor went on to add, "But I don't really know what the plan is yet. I have my fingers crossed, and of course, I think it's great, and I loved working on that film, so yeah, I hope we get to do another." 

According to Cooke, some of the "Ready Player One" actors are at least already signed on to appear in a sequel when production begins — if it ever does, at least. "I've signed my life away, so I'm contracted to sequels, but I don't know," Cooke told Digital Spy in 2018. "I haven't heard anything. We'll see."

What Steven Spielberg has said about Ready Player Two

It took a real-life master of blockbuster entertainment to bring the complex and IP-packed "Ready Player One" to the big screen, and that master was none other than Steven Spielberg, who both directed and produced the film. A sequel would likely require Spielberg's active involvement or approval, and that's not a given or even a likelihood. 

In a career going back 50 years, Spielberg has directed only a handful of continuations — three "Indiana Jones" sequels and "The Lost World," the follow-up to "Jurassic Park." He's hesitant to take that route again. "My sequels aren't as good as my originals because I go onto every sequel I've made and I'm too confident," Spielberg told The New York Times. "This movie made a ka-zillion dollars, which justifies the sequel, so I come in like it's going to be a slam dunk, and I wind up making an inferior movie to the one before."

So, Spielberg is wary of sequels, while "Ready Player One" left him weary. "It's the third most difficult film I've made after 'Jaws' and 'Saving Private Ryan,'" he told the Associated Press about the partially live-action, partially computer generated production. "I had to learn how to make a film like this while I was making a film like this," Spielberg said. "And that meant a lot of trial and error."

What could be explored in Ready Player Two?

Should they ever get around to making "Ready Player Two" in movie form, filmmakers will presumably adhere to the plot set out in Ernest Cline's bestselling 2020 sequel novel of the same title. Or, like Spielberg did for the "Ready Player One" movie, they'll use the source novel as a loose series of suggestions.

So what happens in Cline's second book? Well, "Ready Player Two" takes place just after the "High Five" have successfully fought off Nolan Sorrento and his corporate mercenaries, and they've taken rightful control of the OASIS, with Wade in charge and in a seemingly happily-ever-after relationship with Art3mis (aka Samantha). But now, the characters have dispersed to various corners around the world, uneasy with their newfound fame and unbelievable success. 

However, that's a short-lived feeling when they must reconvene to fight another online menace, one that bleeds past the VR realm and into the real world. That involves a new technology even more sophisticated, addictive, and possibly dangerous than the original OASIS — the ONI, a VR headset that plugs into the brain and allows for a fully-immersive sensory experience. 

Who would star in Ready Player Two?

The ending of Steven Spielberg's "Ready Player One" is a bit different than Ernest Cline's novel. In the film, every member of the heroic and victorious "High Five" makes it out of the movie alive. In the book, one of the virtual reality heroes perishes along the way, with the unfortunate fate belonging to Daito. As a result, he doesn't show up in the novel "Ready Player Two," but we're fairly certain a cinematic sequel would ignore that plot point.

In other words, chances are pretty good that Win Morisaki would return as Daito in the movie version, along with Tye Sheridan as Wade/Parzival. Sheridan has expressed interest in a sequel, and he would need to be joined by Philip Zhao as Zhou/Shoto, Lena Waithe as Helen/Tech, and Olivia Cooke as Samantha/Art3mis. While we know that Cooke signed on for sequels, she did cast doubt on the chances of her returning to the series. While speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Cooke was asked if she'd read "Ready Player Two." Her response? "I haven't read the new book yet. I don't think I'd be in the sequel just because if it goes directly after the first one, then I'll be bloody 40 by the time it comes out. But yeah, I'm curious to read it."

As for the rest of the cast, original, unheralded OASIS co-creator Kira Morrow factors prominently into the story of "Ready Player Two," meaning Perdita Weeks would enjoy a role bigger than what she had in the first film. Mark Rylance would also presumably return as James Halliday — or his avatar Anorak, a fully digital being following the character's death in "Ready Player One," the book and the movie.

Ready for more Ready Player Two?

The 2011 Ernest Cline novel "Ready Player One" and the 2018 film adaptation of "Ready Player One" utilize the same characters and wind up with the same ending. But the similarities end there, as the two stories take completely different plot paths to get to their final moments. That means any fans of Steven Spielberg's "Ready Player One" who aren't familiar with its literary inspiration and are wishing to plug into the OASIS for a new adventure can do so with this alternate take on Anorak's Easter egg hunt. 

Either a read of Cline's "Ready Player One" or a viewing of Steven Spielberg's "Ready Player One" adaptation both lead nicely into "Ready Player Two." Cline wrote and published the book in the wake of the film's success, and it follows Parzival, Art3mis, and the others on a new VR quest, one that will likely serve as the starting point for a future "Ready Player One" sequel movie.