January 30, 2020
If Ridley Scott’s film can get a triumphant sequel after more than three decades, a box-office fizzle won’t stop the series
A third Blade Runner movie is as inevitable as the coming robot revolution
Has there ever been a science fiction movie more primed for sequels than Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049? At the end of the Oscar-winning 2017 neo-noir, itself a continuation of the story first told in 1982’s Blade Runner, we are left with more questions than we had in the movie’s opening frame. There is still no definitive answer on the replicant status of Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard (though matters have moved on so swiftly that this barely matters); we have seen little of the replicant uprising that was briefly teased; and the concept of replicants that can reproduce (possibly even mating with humans) has barely been touched upon. As a piece of cinema, Villeneuve’s stunning new episode is as beguiling and enigmatic as Ridley Scott’s original, a Magic Eye poster of a movie challenging us to discern the secrets that lie buried in its swirling patterns.
Until not so long ago, however, any talk of future instalments lay sunk beneath the weight of the film’s disappointing box office take – a mere $260m worldwide on a budget thought to be around $150m. To the casual observer, a basic profit of $110m doesn’t sound too shabby, but Hollywood economics are as abstruse as Scott’s vision of a depopulated, damaged future California: the reality is that after marketing costs and other factors such as the share of gross receipts owed to local cinema owners, Villeneuve’s movie almost certainly lost money. Still, the Canadian director isn’t giving up hope of returning to the dusky neon-peppered world of future LA as he plans his next sci-fi opus, a new adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel Dune.
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