There’s no director/composer collaboration more fruitful or famous than that of Steven Spielberg and John Williams, but as Spielberg’s next two films come together at the same time, Williams is having to skip scoring duties for one. The filmmaker shot the effects-driven sci-fi adaptation READY PLAYER ONE last year, but with a March 2018 release date, post-production has been a lengthy process. In the meantime, while the effects work on that film continues, Spielberg is in the midst of shooting a politically-tinged drama called THE PAPERS with Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks that he’s fast-tracking into this year’s awards race, with a by-the-skin-of-your-teeth December release date.
THE PAPERS is a project that only came together earlier this year and moved very quickly, while READY PLAYER ONE has had a much more leisurely post-production process. But the scoring schedule for both films is conflicting, so John Williams will be composing the original score for THE PAPERS but not READY PLAYER ONE. Per Variety, duties on READY PLAYER ONE will fall to BACK TO THE FUTURE and THE AVENGERS composer Alan Silvestri, marking the second “new” composer collaboration for Spielberg in the last few years.
Indeed, the 85-year-old Williams suffered some health issues in 2015, truncating his schedule and leading to him having to choose between scoring STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS and Spielberg’s BRIDGE OF SPIES. Spielberg went ahead and nabbed Thomas Newman for BRIDGE OF SPIES, allowing Williams to return to the STAR WARS universe, which was kind of a big deal since Williams had scored every single one of Spielberg’s films except for 1985’s THE COLOR PURPLE and 1971’s DUEL.
And with Williams also having to work on STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI this year, throwing READY PLAYER ONE into the mix was just too much. This is entirely understandable—Williams isn’t as young as someone like Michael Giacchino, and he’s never been the kind of composer that works on three or four different films in a year. It’s a bummer that we won’t be getting a new Williams score for a Spielberg sci-fi film, but given how terrific his understated work on LINCOLN was, I’m eager to see what he puts together for THE PAPERS.
As for Silvestri, he’s a familiar face for Spielberg as the go-to composer of Robert Zemeckis, and he’s very comfortable with the sci-fi realm having composed for Marvel’s THE AVENGERS, CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, and the upcoming AVENGERS: INFINTY WAR.
So don’t fret, music nerds. We’ve got Williams’ THE LAST JEDI and THE PAPERS on the way this year, and we get to hear what a new Spielberg collaboration sounds like on READY PLAYER ONE next spring.