This Controversial Steven Spielberg Film Is Dominating HBO Max

Ready Player One

Can a love letter to gaming and pop culture dominate the charts years after release? The answer, apparently, is yes.

Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One is currently the most popular movie on HBO Max since last Friday. Released in 2018, FlixPatrol reports that the movie has been the top film on the streaming service in all but one of HBO Max’s international markets since Aug. 4.

Despite its relatively high rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Ready Player One met a mixed reception from critics. The nostalgia-driven empowerment fantasy landed with fans of the ‘80s and ‘90s IP that once defined geek culture, but without that predefined interest the film amounts to little more than a tropey, if spectacular, action movie.

While iconic characters, vehicles, and locations from pop culture buttress the movie about a VR world on the verge of corporate takeover, the film treats the gatekeeping reverence of such works by misognystic fan communities with reverence. Women are treated in the film as well as they were by the same media and fan communities decades ago. And Spielberg foregoes any criticism of the real-life corporations controlling our access to such imagery.

FlixPatrol launched in April 2019. The site filters publicly available data on streaming services’ trending series and regional popularity, then synthesizes data into an in-house algorithm to rank popular services’ best-performing TVs and movies. Services tracked include Netflix, HBO Max, and Google Play.