The Intros to Friends, Fresh Prince and More Are Reborn as 8-Bit Animations for Ready Player One

Warner Bros. takes a quirky, retro route to promoting the film

Warner Bros. TV

If you thought Charlie Sheen was a blockhead on Two and a Half Men, just wait until you see his pixelated persona in Warner Bros. TV’ 8-bit re-imagining of the sitcom’s opening sequence.

The clip, along with retro reimaginings of the intros to Friends, Full House and Fresh Prince of Bel Air, was created by animator Ryan Hooley and musician Todd Bryanton to help promote Warner Bros.’ Hollywood blockbuster Ready Player One. The Steven Spielberg-directed sci-fi romp, which debuted last week, deals with a future of global gaming through a lens of pop-culture/media nostalgia.

“We wanted to have fun on our social platforms with an homage to the ’80s,” Warner Bros. TV President and CMO Lisa Gregorian tells AdFreak.

(Admittedly, only Full House and Fresh Prince were ’80s shows. Friends debuted in 1994, and Two and a Half Men didn’t hit the airwaves until 2003. But the film version of Ready Player One also seems pretty loose in its interpretation of “retro” eras.)

While the big-screen tie-in with the clips is a bit vague—postings on YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat and elsewhere simply say the clips are “Powered by Ready Player One”—the animations themselves are extremely well done and enjoyable even as standalone creations.

“These specific shows have highly engaged fans who love when we are playful in tone,” says Gregorian. “Uncle Jesse from Full House looks cool no matter what—even in 8-bit!”

Fair enough, and young Will Smith somehow manages to become even more charming in low-res form. As for Two and a Half Men’s Charlie, though, he comes across as obnoxiously psycho in any format.


President, CMO, Warner Bros. Television Group: Lisa Gregorian
SVP, Worldwide Communications and Domestic Marketing: Scott Rowe
Manager, Social Media Marketing (Project Lead for WBTV): Tim Seiwert
Animation: Ryan Hooley
Music: Todd Bryanton

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@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.