Steven Spielberg's Own Nostalgia Led Him To Incorporating THE SHINING Into READY PLAYER ONE
One of my favorite scenes in Ready Player One is when the team of heroes enters the Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's The Shining. For me, that was one of the greatest things ever! It was also completely unexpected because it wasn't in the book.
It turns out that director Steven Spielberg's own nostalgia inspired this epic moment in the movie. It all ties into the first time that he met Stanley Kubrick. In an interview with EW, Spielberg said:
"It was nostalgic for me because I first met Stanley Kubrick on the set that I depict in Ready Player One. The main living area with the grand fireplace in the Overlook is where I first encountered Stanley in 1979 when I went to look at the soundstages. They were about to build the sets for Raiders of the Lost Ark in Elstree Studios. When I found out Stanley had completed a set and was planning his shots, I asked if I could meet him."
Spielberg only had two big hit films under his belt at this Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. He went on to talk about seeing the set of The Shining saying:
"The set was exactly the way it is in the movie, all finished. They weren’t shooting yet. Stanley had a model of the set on a table where the typewriter is, and he was using a Nikon camera with an inverted periscope lens, actually taking still photographs with tiny stick figures. He was prospecting for shots.
"I looked at that and I said, 'You’ve got the whole set and you’re looking for shots on a small quarter-inch of the scale tabletop model?' And Stanley said, 'Yeah, what’s wrong with that?'"
Nothing is wrong with that!
"He was very warm, very complimentary. He had seen some of my movies and invited me to his house for dinner that night. We stayed friends for 19 years after that. Until his death."
As for bringing that set for The Shining back to life for Ready Player One, Spielberg explains that "It’s a combination of set construction and digital set construction. So we built the elevators and we built the hallway leading up to the elevators, but the main living area of the Overlook with the fireplace is digital."
You can actually see a behind-the-scenes video below from the set of the film to give you an idea of what they were working with. Production designer Adam Stockhausen then talked about how they went about shooting the scenes:
"It was determined by the needs of the visual-effects people. Whenever we have our characters walking around, Aech and Parzival and Art3mis, there’s no need for any real-life scenery. In fact, it would just get in the way because it would block the infrared cameras that were trying to record the performance of the actors.
"When we were filming the girls in the hallway going to the elevator, and when we were filming the woman who was stepping out of the bath, we had the real bathtub and real shower curtain, and we matched the elevator doors just for those pieces. We had a real background behind an actor so you wouldn’t get that green-screen effect."
Stockhausen also talked about all the crazy weird stuff that they were looking to incorporate in this sequence saying:
"We did a whole series of thumbnail sketches just to try to break things open. What if the hedge animals come to life and start chasing us? What if we go into the bathroom and all of a sudden it turns into a hamster wheel and you can’t get out? What if we take the hedge maze miniature that’s on the table in the original film and our characters are miniature — and a giant ax comes swinging through?"
What they ended up doing with The Shining sequel ended up being a blast. It's good to see that Spielberg got to play around with the things that he is nostalgic about.