Ridley Scott believes Blade Runner 2049 flopped at the box office because the movie was simply too long. The sci-fi sequel directed by Denis Villeneuve received great reviews but has made just $258 million worldwide on a reported budget of up to $185 million. The movie clocked in at a lengthy 163 minutes, though an early cut was even longer, running for 4 hours.
Blade Runner 2049 picks up thirty years after the original Blade Runner. Ryan Gosling plays K, a replicant cop searching for Harrison Ford’s Deckard (who’s been missing since the events of the first film). Filled with stunning visuals, Blade Runner 2049 presents a fully realized sci-fi world, but takes its time unspooling its story. Ridley Scott’s original Blade Runner was itself a slow-paced film and not a hit, though it did go on to win a cult following. Unfortunately, Blade Runner‘s cult wasn’t large enough to make the sequel a financial success.
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Speaking to Al Arabiya, Blade Runner 2049 producer Ridley Scott gave his typically terse breakdown of why the sequel flopped. “It’s slow. It’s slow. Long. Too long. I would have taken out half an hour,” Scott said. By contrast with Villeneuve’s nearly three-hour film, Scott’s original Blade Runner ran for just 117 minutes. Scott’s 2007 Blade Runner “Final Cut,” the last of many versions, maintained the same 117 minute running time.
In a different interview, Denis Villeneuve also said that he continues to grapple with the reasons behind Blade Runner 2049‘s failure. Villeneuve did admit the movie was perhaps too long. However, he also argued that audiences simply weren’t familiar enough with the movie’s world to get interested in a sequel. Villeneuve says overall it’s a “mystery” to him that the movie didn’t do better.
So, would cutting 30 minutes from Blade Runner 2049 have helped the film as Ridley Scott suggests? On a practical level, removing a half-hour would have let theaters squeeze in more showings – an important consideration with any big-budget movie. In terms of pacing, losing 30 minutes in the right spots would have led to a tighter movie. A brisker pace might have helped stave off criticisms that Blade Runner 2049 is boring. Of course, what some describe as “boring,” others call “hypnotic.” For Villeneuve, creating an immersive film was clearly more important than playing to short attention spans. Scott, a guy who balances filmmaking craft with business sense, would likely argue Villeneuve should have paid more attention to commercial concerns.
Ultimately, no one knows if a shorter Blade Runner 2049 would have caught on with audiences. Perhaps it would have helped. Or perhaps, all-in-all, a big-budget Blade Runner sequel was simply never a viable box office proposition.
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Source: Al Arabiya