Movies · News

‘Ready Player One’ and ‘Cloverfield’ Invite You to Start Looking for Easter Eggs

Both movies have kicked their viral marketing campaigns up a notch.
Ready Player One
By  · Published on January 22nd, 2018

Warner Bros. has released a new Ready Player One teaser that includes a hidden link and password. This reveals new footage and interviews with director Steven Spielberg and author Ernest Cline. The hidden video also features footage from some of the cornerstones of pop culture referenced in Ready Player One, such as the Spielberg-produced Back To The Future, and a number of previous Spielberg-helmed films, including E.T. and Raiders Of The Lost Ark. Meanwhile, Cline discusses the influence of Spielberg’s films on his life and work.

For those who weren’t able to comb through the teaser well enough to find the link, the full video was released a few hours later.

The teaser very fittingly includes instructions on finding an Easter egg. Within the narrative of the film, this hidden item was left behind by the recently deceased James Halliday (Mark Rylance), creator of the OASIS, a virtual reality world. Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) is one of many who will be searching in the VR world for this Easter egg in the hopes of winning control of the OASIS and inheriting Halliday’s $500 billion fortune.

Between the influence of pop culture on display in the source material and Spielberg’s choice to direct a film that makes reference to his own body of work, Ready Player One is already pretty meta. Add to that a viral marketing campaign sending fans on a quest to find Easter eggs, and it’s clear Warner Bros. is speaking to their audience in the language of this film.

Even though Ready Player One is set in 2045, features a dystopian society, and has a plethora of technological advancements, it doesn’t depict a completely unfamiliar future. As a love letter to 1980s pop culture, the footage we’ve seen so far also conjures up feelings of nostalgia and a deep appreciation for the films, TV shows, and video games of the era.

So it should come as no surprise that these throwbacks have become part of the marketing. When Cline speaks about having “grown up on a steady diet of Steven Spielberg movies” and the invaluable experience of this, he expresses a sentiment many film lovers will easily relate to. Spielberg’s work has shaped popular film for decades and it’s more than understandable for Cline to have envisioned a future where it continues to resonate.

The teaser for the film highlights the futuristic VR components of the story, while the hidden video emphasizes the influence of past cultural touchstones and their continuing legacy. Ready Player One blends the history of pop culture with the technology of the future — it only makes sense for its marketing campaign to do the same.

Cloverfield Lane

Ready Player One isn’t the only movie to give its fans something to search for. Last week, to mark the 10 year anniversary of Cloverfield’s theatrical release, there was some development with the upcoming third Cloverfield film. Tagruato, a fictional Japanese mining company that was also part of the first film’s viral marketing campaign, now has a cryptic message on its website.

Very little can be made out, but thankfully someone on Reddit with stronger eyesight than me managed to decipher a message.

Tokyo – January 18 2018: Tagruato has begun development on a revolutionary new energy technology in what Ceo Garo Yoshida called a technological great leap forward for our planet. This renewable technology will take at least 4 years to complete along with another six years International regulatory bodies to bring the powerful revolutionary energy source by April 18, 2028.

April 18, 2028, when put into numerical format, leads to On this website there’s some scrambled dialogue and the occasional flashing image, but it’s difficult to understand. From what I can hear it sounds like “…put your hands where I can see them…” and “…warn you about the danger…” among other things, but it’s anyone’s guess what any of this actually means. Fans are already speculating about who is seen in one of the images, but there’s a good chance the answer won’t be figured out until more information is supplied by Paramount Pictures.

Though a lot of information has been kept hidden, there were early plot details for the new Cloverfield film, which is directed by Julius Onah. The story involved astronauts aboard an international space station who are left stranded after an experiment involving a particle accelerator makes the Earth vanish. This version was originally titled God Particle, but after that was scrapped and replaced with Untitled Cloverfield Sequel, it’s likely the aspects of the plot involving a God particle were also changed. The film, which was originally set to be released February 24, 2017, has been pushed back three times so far, possibly to allow for any number of changes to be made to the story. The title is now rumored to be Cloverfield Station, but this is unconfirmed and will probably stay that way until the first trailer is released.

A decade after Cloverfield and two years since 10 Cloverfield Lane, these initial two movies have left many unanswered questions. It still isn’t apparent how a Tagruato is involved, but if there is some sort of catastrophe, as is hinted at on the two websites, it could potentially tie two, or even all three, of the movies in the Cloverfield universe together and explain how the monsters in the films came to Earth, or the extent of what happened after they arrived here. Or, it could not.

One of the great things about the two Cloverfield films is they have managed to hold onto their secrets while also supplying fans with enough information to keep a decade-long discussion going about what it all means. Chances are we could speculate on the third Cloverfield film until we’re all blue in the face and we still won’t figure out what the movie has in store for us. But for those who enjoy going down the rabbit hole with these films, the two websites (and Reddit) have provided an excellent opportunity to do so.

Ready Player One will be released March 30th and the Untitled Cloverfield Sequel is set for release on April 20th. This means there’s still a few months for Warner Bros and Paramount, respectively, to continue to build on their already very smart marketing campaigns for the films.

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Anna Swanson is a Senior Contributor who hails from Toronto. She can usually be found at the nearest rep screening of a Brian De Palma film.