LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Thousands of fans were treated to a first look at Steven Spielberg's hotly anticipated sci-fi adventure Ready Player One at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday.
Starring Tye Sheridan, the movie is based on a 2011 novel about a teenager on a treasure hunt in a virtual reality game, in a world torn by an energy crisis.
Footage for the action adventure debuted during Warner Bros.' presentation, showing Sheridan as teenage gamer Wade Watts, who finds himself inside VR Oasis.
The preview opened in a futuristic trailer park in Columbus, Ohio where Wade lives, as he puts on the Oasis headset and gloves and is transported into its VR world.
"I was born in 2025, but I wish I'd grown up in the 1980s, like all my heroes," he says.
Wade is seen going toe-to-toe with Freddy Krueger, standing beside the Iron Giant and racing the DeLorean from Back to the Future as he weaves to avoid huge wrecking balls.
Spielberg received a huge ovation as he hit the stage in the 6,500-capacity Hall H alongside Ernie Cline, who wrote the novel.
The filmmaker described the book as "the most amazing flash-forward and flashback at the same time about a decade I was very involved in, the 1980s." He added that he thought they were going to need "a younger director" to helm the project, despite his own movies featuring heavily.
"I grew up watching this man's movies and studying them," said Cline.
Spielberg said he had relished directing a sci-fi about the "dystopian" world people would be living in 30 years in the future 2045.
"People are leaving the country and all of a sudden virtual reality gives you a choice, gives you another world to exist in," he said.
"And you can do anything in that world - anything you can possibly imagine." He called the universe he created for the movie a "future that is awaiting all of us whether we like it or not." "This movie is going to expose so many people to the concept of virtual reality, and I think it's going to change the speed of adoption," Cline added.
Ready Player One opens in the United States on March 30, 2018.