Ready Player One: A tour of Birmingham

3 January, 2021

Birmingham Applicant Experience Manager Lucy Carey discusses Birmingham’s starring role in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One.

The year is 2045 Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) escapes his dismal existence with his Aunt Alice and her abusive boyfriend in The Stacks; the chaotic tower of a shanty town – into the virtual OASIS, where he immerses himself in an online fantasy realm of wish and fulfilment.

The Stacks are a digital extension of an outdoor set built onto Warner Bro’s Studio in Leavesden. Leavesden was also home to the ambitious and hungry cavernous interiors of IOI (Innovative Online Industries). A corporation eager to take over the OASIS by using the three ‘keys’ to locate a virtual Easter Egg left by the OASIS’s creator James Halliday (Mark Rylance). Whoever finds the Easter Egg will find themselves not only taking control of the OASIS but also his billionaire legacy. A position which can only be filled by the most dedicated gamer.

Whilst 60% of the narrative takes part in virtual reality, most of its other scenes were shot in and around Birmingham. The production team utilised most of Digbeth and the Jewellery Quarter not only due to its untapped filming locations but also for its ideal dystopian infrastructures.

Take a look below at some of the locations the second city provided in order to create a futuristic mid-twenty first century, Ohio.

We first notice Birmingham’s appearance, after Wade is rescued by a group of rebel gamers determined to prevent IOI from gaining control of the OASIS. Wade finds himself in the somewhat unglamourous rooftop garden of the Rebellion’s safehouse. This roof is now the closed and empty Typhoo Tea Factory on Bordesley Street, Digbeth in Birmingham.

Both Mary Ann Street and Lively Street are utilised at various moments throughout the film. The first being when IOI push out spy drones to track Wade and the rest of the team. The drones follow Wade alongside the bridge which carries trains to Moor Street Station, Birmingham.

Furthermore, the open-air street market where the gang recognise the tattooed man purchasing groceries was created outside Lionel House Car Park on Lionel Street, embedded between Newhall Street and Summer Row.

Later on in the narrative,  Wade finds himself fleeing the team at IOI, Helen (Lena Waithe) plummets the van under the towering arch on Floodgate Street, Digbeth and into the yard next to Ashton Engineering Co, where they hide beneath the rail lines.

Throughout the final chase we find ourselves of course back at Livery Street, Digbeth, where the frequent railway lines and arches can be seen once again. However, as Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) joins the pursuit we see the backdrop change to the concrete support underneath Gravelly Hill Interchange on the M6 motorway which can be found northeast of Central Birmingham.

Once we are back under the Spaghetti Junction, we find ourselves taken back to The Stacks where we of course find our resolution.

With so many brilliant filming locations, it’s no surprise that Spielberg chose Birmingham as the backdrop for Ready Player One. The whole city is here ready to put your career centre stage, all you have to do – is say action.

 


 

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