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Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi flick Ready Player One pushed back to avoid Star Wars clash

The Star Wars franchise shook up Hollywood when Disney released The Force Awakens late last year, and it managed to do so again by changing the release of Star Wars: Episode VIII in January. The move set off a cascade of changes, and most recently, the Steven Spielberg-directed sci-fi flick Ready Player One has been slated for a new theatrical debut to avoid competition with the next chapter in the space opera, according to THR.

Ready Player One, a film to be based on Ernie Cline’s novel of the same name, was scheduled to open on December 15, 2017, but Disney’s shift complicated those plans. Evidently, execs at Warner Bros. weren’t thrilled with the idea of sharing a date with the sequel to a film that destroyed box office records; instead of sticking with the planned date, they rescheduled the film’s release for March 30, 2018.

Related: Spielberg’s next big project is designed just for Virtual Reality

While Ready Player One would likely suffer from direct competition with Star Wars: Episode VIII, the project still seems destined to be huge — and more so now with its new date. The project combines a compelling story, the potential for VR technology, and Steven Spielberg as director, so it’s an impressive package, to say the least. Warner Bros. is smart to maximize its potential with a less competitive weekend.

The studio fought fiercely to bring Ready Player One to the screen; the sale of Cline’s novel and its film rights incited a bidding war that Warner Bros. won. The story centers on an outcast teenager living in the near future who spends time in Oasis, a globally networked virtual utopia, to escape from his less-than-idyllic life. When Oasis’ creator dies, the teen ends up joining a treasure hunt for the man’s fortune, competing against an unscrupulous group of fellow gamers and even corporate figures.

So far, fans can expect to see Olivia Cooke and Ben Mendelsohn fill roles in the sci-fi flick when it premiere in 2018.