Steven Spielberg is one of the most successful directors of all time. Generally, his name on the marquis is a huge draw. But as his latest movie, Ready Player One, nears its premiere, his magic doesn’t seem as strong as it usually does.
The movie, based on Ernest Cline’s novel, is a celebration of pop culture, set within a sci-fi story in a dystopian future. And to emphasize that, Warner Bros. released a slew of posters on Tuesday, using characters in the film to recreate classic film posters (like The Matrix, The Iron Giant, and Back To the Future).
It didn’t go well.
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The Internet erupted with vitriolic criticism of the posters and the film’s premise.
Incurring the wrath of the pop culture fans you were hoping to lure to the theater isn’t a promising start for the film, which will continue its PR blitzkrieg at the South by Southwest conference next week.
Spielberg hasn’t had a true box office blockbuster for a while. Last year’s The Post has earned $80.5 million life to date, according to Box Office Mojo. And 2016’s The BFG only took in $55 million. The director’s last true smash was 2012’s Lincoln, which made $182 million.
Of course, Spielberg still has fans, so some people did defend the film.
Ready Player One will hit theaters on Mar. 29.