Free Guy Director Shawn Levy Reveals Gaming Inspirations For Original Film

It's rare to see Disney releasing a big budget film which is not based on Marvel, Star Wars, or pre-existing animated properties owned by the massive entertainment brand. Later this year, the studio is releasing Free Guy, a film which is a wholly original idea -- and one which went into production under the Fox umbrella ahead of Disney's purchasing of the studio. While the film tells a brand new story not based on pre-existing IP, it is not without its inspirations. Ryan Reynolds plays a character living in a video game who decides to take his life into his own hands and Guy's video game world will come with its references and inspirations to popular games the viewers will recognize.

Shawn Levy, known best for his work on Stranger Things, tapped into the video game community for some added fun. He revealed as much while talking about Free Guy during a press conference. “[Grand Theft Auto] was a big part of our research for this movie, but as someone who was once attached to Minecraft, once attached to Uncharted, I’m thrilled I’m making a movie about video games that is not beholden to any video game,” Levy said. “To be very, very clear, this is in no way a literal adaptation of anything that’s existed.”

Free Guy seems to be borrowing the open world nature of the GTA franchise, along with the story style of the game, but Levy also notes that the film has inspirations from movie titles. The Truman Show, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Ready Player One, for example, might all have shades of their story popping into Free Guy.

.“It’s just so fun to do something new. Something that is quite literally based on absolutely nothing,” Reynolds said, describing the movie which he thinks might be his best yet. “I love the process of appointing an audience with this new property or this new idea. And it’s big, the scale is big. And I think it’s appealing to a huge audience.”

The film has quite an impressive cast on the screen. In addition to Reynolds, moviegoers will see Lil Rel Howeery, Jodie Comer, Joe Keery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, and more in a story split between the in-game world and the real world where players controls some of the characters. For Ambudkar, a gamer himself, the game influences are fun -- especially those from the popular free-to-play Battle Royale title Fortnite.

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"I play Fortnite every night with my friends across the world, on headsets so that we can stay connected," Ambudkar said. "This movie was made for this nerd right here. Tthroughout the film, oh, I can't say any of the best stuff. I will say as somebody who loves this stuff, I was tickled pink, um, and there's a lot of like, uh, wonderful cameos from people within the gaming community, which is cool as well. You'll see LazarBeam, you'll see Ninja, you'll see-you'll see people that we know and have gotten to know for many, many years, uh, be a part of this movie."

Free Guy is currently scheduled to hit theaters on December 11, 2020.