So how did the High Five end up running through the corridors of a haunted hotel instead of braving WarGames?
With Ready Player One out on digital today and being released on Blu-ray on July 24, Spielberg admitted that he ditched the WarGames scene for The Shining because he and Stanley Kubrick met on that set in 1979.
“It was nostalgic for me because I first met Stanley Kubrick on the set that I depict in Ready Player One,” Spielberg recently told EW. “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.”
When you have one legendary director meeting a future legendary director (who didn’t know how legendary he was going to get), what could have been an ordinary fan encounter turns into the stuff of, well, legend. He’d already smashed the box office with Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind back when “Spielbergian” wasn’t a thing yet. Spielberg’s enduring respect for Kubrick was what led him to transplant The Shining into what was supposed to be WarGames.
As he said to EW, the director approached Kubrick when he was using a model of the set to test shots with a Nikon camera.
“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?’” he remembered. “And Stanley said, ‘Yeah, what’s wrong with that?’”
It was the beginning of a 19-year friendship between cinematic titans.
Even the High Five couldn’t figure this one out as they braved the horrors of the Overlook, though they demystified why Stephen King couldn’t stand his own creation when it was brought to life by Kubrick, kind of like Dr. Frankenstein being horrified at the monster he created.
Spielberg himself has confessed before that he wasn’t a fan of The Shining when he first saw it, but it grew on him with time, kind of like the mold on that bathtub corpse.