– by David Kozlowski

One of the great mysteries of the 2017 box office was the failure of Blade Runner 2049, a serious, beautiful, and haunting sci-fi film that simply cost too much and didn’t capture enough audience. Director Denis Villeneuve re-created the tone and atmosphere of the original Blade Runner and even convinced Harrison Ford to return — Unfortunately, despite a compelling story and great performances, they couldn’t sell enough tickets to cover the film’s $150 million budget.

Villeneuve has spent the last two months answering questions about Blade Runner 2049‘s struggles. He still doesn’t have a definitive answer. Out of the myriad interviews he’s conducted emerged the news of an original 4-hour cut, the rumor of a two-part release, and open questions regarding the origins and fates of its cast.

Related – Blade Runner 2049: Denis Villeneuve Had To Ask Ridley Scott To Leave Set

Villeneuve spoke with ScreenCrush to address these rumors and questions. He describes his initial cut of the film:

“It’s true that the first cut was four hours and at one point we were like, ‘Okay, do we go to the producer and release it in two?’ But let’s say the idea of the movie being in two parts didn’t get out of the editing room. No, the best incarnation of the movie is what is in the theater. What was striking is that the four-hour cut was quite strong. But personally I prefer the one that is in the theater because it’s more elegant, I would say.”

Villeneuve explains his rationale for the final cut and the reasons for eliminating certain scenes:

“When I cut something, it’s dead. It means it was not good enough. Even if sometimes I’m cutting my favorite shots, I still strongly think that when it’s cut on the floor of the editing room it should not go back to see the light of day again. I don’t like extended cuts. I must say, apart from Touch of Evil and Blade Runner, I have never seen a director’s cut that was better than the original… It’s true that maybe sometimes the director lost control and had to do what producers — but, most of the time the movie stands by itself.”

Consequently, according to Villeneuve, the Blade Runner 2049 we see in theaters is the “director’s cut” version, which is kind of amazing in this day of studio interference. He explains that the studio wanted a shorter runtime — currently BR2049 is 2 hours 43 minutes — but he prevailed (perhaps to the film’s box office detriment).

Villeneuve closes the interview by addressing the film’s finaincial struggles:

“I feel responsible as a filmmaker… The movie was praised and was well-received by film critics for its artistic qualities, saying that we didn’t make any concessions. So maybe we have to pay the price of having made this kind of, as you said, almost 3 hour art-house movie. And for an art-house movie, it did a ton of money. If you don’t take into consideration the budget of the film, it’s my biggest box office.”

Therein lies the problem, Blade Runner 2049 is not Star Wars or Guardians of the Galaxy; the film appeals to a more mature audience, who are simply not turning up in theaters these days.

Did you see Blade Runner 2049? Why do you think it struggled? Let us know in the comments down below!

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SOURCE: ScreenCrush

  • Kindofabigdeal

    Who the hell wants to sit through one movie for that long? I mean unless you are having a Potter/LOTR/Star Wars marathon where the story, tone, and characters change a bit. But that is too much man.

    • bickle2

      Umm, anyone that wants a quality complex narrative. 90 minutes of some movies is way too long, for others 4 hours not enough

  • Aaron James

    I loved it. But I could tell even while watching it that it was not for everyone. Even now, I’m hesitant to recommend it to people. Even if someone’s a fan of the first movie, they may not like 2049 (I say this because I’m not really a fan of the first movie, so the reverse is true too).

    What I would say is: if you’re a fan of Villeneuve’s other movies, you’ll probably like this one too. I think everything he’s done is pretty amazing.

  • armyof100clowns

    I have to admit my surprise and disappointment this film did not do better. Opening night there were 10 people in the theater, including my son and me. Blade Runner was the first film I ever saw on home video in the Fall of ‘83. It was the first video I owned (having asked for it as a gift for my 11th birthday). Needless to say, I have been, and am, a BR fan.

    Going back to my opening statement – my disappointment stems from the fact that film length should not be a factor. If a film, such as Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (clocking in at 161 minutes), a film squarely aimed at families and children can succeed, why couldn’t BR 2049? If mixed aged attractors like The Lord of the Rings trilogy can be wildly successful (the shortest theatrical cut being 178 minutes), why couldn’t BR 2049? The only conclusion I can come to is that modern audiences do not have the tolerance or attention span for a film that requires their undivided attention, asks subtle (but complex) questions, and does not rely solely on bombast and action to wake the audience back into engagement. It’s pretty sad if that’s true.

    This film was not what I ever expected for a sequel. The story departed significantly from what I had built in my mind since the early ‘80s. It was a challenge and defied my expectations. It answered many lingering questions, but had the balls to ask a whole lot more. In the end, though, it proved highly satisfying (unlike the silly and vexing Last Jedi).

    It really was an art house film, and hopefully, as with the original, time will prove its merits and importance within the pantheon of Sci-fi cinema.

  • Scott Caudill

    I only found out it was in theaters after it was released. Maybe it was the marketing, like what happened to Valerian.

David Kozlowski is a writer, podcaster, and visual artist. A U.S. Army veteran, David worked 20 years in the videogame industry and is a graduate of Arizona State University's Film and Media Studies.