The Warner Bros. presentation in Hall H kicked off with a look at the new Steven Spielberg virtual reality adventure.

Set in a dystopian future of 2044, Ernest Cline’s novel Ready Player One is considered the Holy Grail of young adult fiction. It’s also a love letter to ’80s pop culture, which informs the virtual world entered by Tye Sheridan’s character in order to solve a series of puzzles to claim the ultimate prize – wealth and power.

“I put down the book and I said, ‘You’re going to need a younger director,’” Spielberg told the crowd. “It was the most amazing flash forward and flash back at the same time to a future that I think is out there awaiting all of us, whether we like it or not.”

The film is an Easter egg-laden ’80s nostalgia rush, with numerous references to characters and classic films of the period, as revealed by the first trailer – everything from the Tron light cycles to Freddy Krueger, Back the Future, Akira and The Iron Giant (which got the biggest cheer).

The Iron Giant is a real major player in this story,” confirmed Spielberg.

“I grew up watching this man’s movies and studying them,” said Cline, who co-wrote the screenplay with Zak Penn. “They’re woven into my DNA and I learned to become a storyteller from this guy. It’s been the most amazing and gratifying experience of my life.

“The whole time I was writing the book I assumed there wouldn’t be a movie. I wanted to mash up everything in pop culture and pay tribute to the pop culture that I love. Really, the only two guys that could make this movie work were Steven and Zak.”

Cline also noted that the film will expose more people to the concept of VR. “I think it’s going to change the speed with which virtual reality will be adopted by civilisation. That’s the power of movies.”

“It’s the ultimate ’80s remix,” said T.J. Miller, who also added with a grin that in terms of a virtual reality movie, “it’s more accurate than Lawnmower Man.”

Ready Player One will be in Australian cinemas on March 29, 2018.