Blade Runner 2049 is a 2017 American neo-noir science fiction film directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green. A sequel to the 1982 film Blade Runner, the film stars Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford, with Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, Carla Juri, Lennie James, Dave Bautista, and Jared Leto in supporting roles. Ford and Edward James Olmos reprise their roles from the original film. Set thirty years after the first film, Gosling plays K, a blade runner who uncovers a secret that threatens to instigate a war between humans and replicants.
Principal photography took place between July and November 2016, mainly in Budapest, Hungary. Blade Runner 2049 premiered in Los Angeles on October 3, 2017 and was released in the United States in 2D, 3D and IMAX on October 6, 2017. The film was praised by critics for its performances, direction, cinematography, musical score, production design, visual effects, and faithfulness to the original film. Despite positive reviews, the film was a box office disappointment, grossing $259 million worldwide.
Blade Runner 2049 received five nominations at the 90th Academy Awards, winning Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects. It received eight nominations at the 71st British Academy Film Awards, including Best Director, winning Best Cinematography and Best Special Visual Effects.
|Blade Runner 2049|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Denis Villeneuve|
|Story by||Hampton Fancher|
Characters from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?|
by Philip K. Dick
|Edited by||Joe Walker|
|Box office||$259.2 million|
In 2049, replicants (described as "bioengineered humans") are slaves. K, a replicant, works for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) as a "Blade Runner", an officer who hunts and "retires" (kills) rogue replicants. At a protein farm, he retires Sapper Morton and finds a box buried under a tree. The box contains the remains of a female replicant who died during a caesarean section, demonstrating that replicants can reproduce sexually, previously thought impossible. K's superior, Lieutenant Joshi, is fearful that this could lead to a war between humans and replicants. She orders K to find and retire the replicant child to hide the truth.
K visits the headquarters of the Wallace Corporation, the successor-in-interest in the manufacturing of replicants to the defunct Tyrell Corporation. Wallace staff identify the deceased female from DNA archives as Rachael, an experimental replicant designed by Dr. Eldon Tyrell. K learns of Rachael's romantic ties with former blade runner Rick Deckard. Wallace CEO Niander Wallace wants to discover the secret to replicant reproduction to expand interstellar colonization. He sends his replicant enforcer Luv to steal Rachael's remains from LAPD headquarters and follow K to Rachael's child.
At Morton's farm, K sees the date 6-10-21 carved into the tree trunk and recognizes it from a childhood memory of a wooden toy horse. Because replicants' memories are artificial, K's holographic AI girlfriend Joi believes this is evidence that K was born, not created. He searches the LAPD records and discovers twins born on that date with identical DNA aside from the sex chromosome, but only the boy is listed as alive. K tracks the child to an orphanage in ruined San Diego, but discovers the records from that year to be missing. K recognizes the orphanage from his memories and finds the toy horse where he remembers hiding it.
Dr. Ana Stelline, a designer of replicant memories, confirms that the memory of the orphanage is real, leading K to conclude that he is Rachael's son. At LAPD headquarters, K fails a post-traumatic baseline test, marking him as a rogue replicant; he lies to Joshi by implying he killed the replicant child. Joshi gives K 48 hours to disappear. At Joi's request, K reluctantly transfers her to a mobile emitter, an emanator, so he can't be traced through her console memory-files. He has the toy horse analyzed, revealing traces of radiation that lead him to the ruins of Las Vegas. He finds Deckard, who reveals that he is the father of Rachael's child and that he scrambled the birth records to protect the child's identity; Deckard left the child in the custody of the replicant freedom movement.
After killing Joshi, Luv tracks K's LAPD vehicle to Deckard's hiding place in Las Vegas. She kidnaps Deckard, destroys Joi and leaves K to die. The replicant freedom movement rescues K. When their leader, Freysa, informs him that she helped deliver Rachael's daughter, K understands he is not Rachael's child and deduces Stelline is her daughter and that the memory of the toy horse is hers. To prevent Deckard from leading Wallace to Stelline or the freedom movement, Freysa asks K to kill Deckard for the greater good of all replicants.
Luv brings Deckard to Wallace Co. headquarters to meet Niander Wallace. He offers Deckard a clone of Rachael for revealing what he knows. Deckard refuses and Luv kills the clone. As Luv is transporting Deckard to a ship to take him off-world to be interrogated, K intercepts and kills Luv but is severely injured in the fight. He stages Deckard's death to protect him from Wallace and the replicant freedom movement before taking Deckard to Stelline's office and handing him her toy horse. As K lies down motionless on the steps, looking up at the snowing sky, an emotional Deckard enters the building and meets his daughter for the first time.
Archival footage, audio and stills of Sean Young from the original film are used to represent her character of Rachael. Young's likeness was digitally superimposed onto Loren Peta, who was coached by Young on how to recreate her performance from the first film. The voice of the replicant was created with the use of a sound-alike actress to Young. Young was credited in the film's credits.
On March 3, 2011, it was reported that Alcon Entertainment, a production company financed by Warner Bros., was "in final discussions to secure film, television and ancillary franchise rights to produce prequels and sequels to the iconic 1982 science-fiction thriller Blade Runner." The rights were being acquired from Bud Yorkin, who served as executive producer on the original film. It was also reported that month that Christopher Nolan was desired as director.
On August 18, 2011, it was announced that Ridley Scott, director of the original film, would direct and produce a new Blade Runner film, although work would not begin until at least 2013. Producer Andrew Kosove suggested that Harrison Ford, who had starred in the original film, was unlikely to be involved. Scott said that the film was "liable to be a sequel" but without the previous cast, and that he was close to finding a writer. On February 6, 2012, Kosove stated: "It is absolutely, patently false that there has been any discussion about Harrison Ford being in Blade Runner. To be clear, what we are trying to do with Ridley now is go through the painstaking process of trying to break the back of the story ... The casting of the movie could not be further from our minds at this moment." When Scott was asked about the possibility of a sequel in October 2012, he said, "It's not a rumor—it's happening. With Harrison Ford? I don't know yet. Is he too old? Well, he was a Nexus-6 so we don't know how long he can live. And that's all I'm going to say at this stage."
Scott said in November 2014 that he would not direct the film and would instead produce; that filming would begin in late 2014 or 2015, and that Ford's character would appear only in "the third act" of the sequel. On February 26, 2015, the sequel was confirmed, with Denis Villeneuve as director. Ford was confirmed to return as Deckard; so too Hampton Fancher, one of the two writers of the original film. The film was expected to enter production in mid-2016. According to Scott, he co-wrote much of the script, but went uncredited.
On April 16, 2015, Ryan Gosling entered negotiations for a role. Gosling confirmed in November 2015 that he had been cast, citing the involvement of Villeneuve and the cinematographer Roger Deakins as factors for his decision; Deakins was hired as director of photography on May 20, 2015. Principal photography was set to begin in July, with Warner Bros. distributing the film domestically, and Sony Pictures Releasing distributing internationally. On February 18, 2016, an official release date of January 12, 2018 was announced.
On March 31, 2016, Robin Wright entered final negotiations for a role in the film, and on April 2, Dave Bautista posted a picture of himself with an origami unicorn, hinting at a role in the film. Bautista and Wright were confirmed to be joining the cast on April 4, and a filming start date of July was established. In late April 2016, the film's release date was moved up to October 6, 2017, as well as Ana de Armas and Sylvia Hoeks being added to the cast. Carla Juri was cast in May 2016. In June, Mackenzie Davis and Barkhad Abdi were cast, with David Dastmalchian, Hiam Abbass and Lennie James joining in July. Jared Leto was cast in the film in August; Villeneuve had hoped to cast David Bowie, but Bowie died before production began. In March 2017, Edward James Olmos confirmed he was in the film in a sequence playing his original character, Gaff.
Interviewed at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, Villeneuve said the plot would be ambiguous about whether Deckard was a replicant. In an interview, Villeneuve mentioned that the film is set a few decades after the original set in 2019. It would again take place in Los Angeles, and the Earth's atmosphere would be different: "The climate has gone berserk – the ocean, the rain, the snow is all toxic." It was announced that Scott would be executive producer.
In a 2017 interview, Deakins said that the red dusty scenes Las Vegas were directly inspired by images of the 2009 Australian dust storm.
With Las Vegas, Denis wanted it to have the red dust. We discussed it at length and we came up with these images of Sydney during the dust storm that they had a few years ago. There are these wonderful photos of the Sydney Opera House and it’s covered with red dust. That formed the basis for Las Vegas.
Principal photography took place between July and November 2016, mainly at Korda Studios and Origo Studios in Budapest, Hungary. For the casino scenes, the old Stock Exchange Palace in Budapest's Liberty Square served as a filming location.
On August 25, 2016, a construction worker was killed while dismantling one of the film's sets at Origo Studios.
Warner Bros. announced in early October 2016 that the film would be titled Blade Runner 2049. Editing commenced in December in Los Angeles, with the intention of having the film being rated R. At the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con, Villeneuve said that the film would run for two hours and 32 minutes. As with Skyfall, cinematographer Roger Deakins created his own IMAX master of the film rather than using the proprietary "DMR" process that IMAX usually uses with films not shot with IMAX cameras.
Rapper-producer El-P said he was asked to compose music for the first Blade Runner 2049 trailer, but his score was "rejected or ignored". Jóhann Jóhannsson, who had worked with Villeneuve on Prisoners, Sicario and Arrival, was initially announced as composer for the film. However, Villeneuve and Jóhann decided to end the collaboration because Villeneuve thought the film "needed something different", and also that he "needed to go back to something closer to Vangelis's soundtrack". Composers Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch joined the project in July 2017. In September, Jóhann's agent confirmed that he was no longer involved and was contractually forbidden from commenting.
Blade Runner 2049 premiered on October 3, 2017 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, although following the 2017 Las Vegas Strip shooting, the red carpet events were cancelled prior to the screening. It was the opening feature at the Festival du nouveau cinéma in Montreal the following day. It also was premiered in Switzerland at the Zurich Film Festival on October 4, 2017.
Sony Pictures Releasing, who had obtained rights to release the film in overseas territories, was the first to release Blade Runner 2049 in theaters, first in France and Belgium on October 4, 2017, then in other countries on the two following days. The film was released by Warner Bros. in North America on October 6, 2017. In addition to standard 2D and 3D formats, Blade Runner 2049 was released in IMAX theaters. Also, Alcon Entertainment partnered with Oculus VR to create and distribute content for the film exclusively for its virtual reality format and launched it alongside the theatrical release of October 6, 2017. That content would later be referred to as Blade Runner: Revelations.
Due to the popularity and preference of IMAX in 2D (as opposed to 3D) among filmgoers in North America, the film was shown in IMAX theaters in only 2D domestically, but was screened in 3D formats internationally.
Warner Bros. and Columbia Pictures jointly released an announcement teaser on December 19, 2016. A selection of excerpts (lasting 15 seconds) were released as a trailer tease on May 5, 2017 in the lead up to the full trailer, which was released on May 8, 2017. A second trailer was released on July 17, 2017.
Three short films were made to explore events that occur in the 30-year period between Blade Runner 2049 and Blade Runner, set in 2019:
Spirit distiller Johnnie Walker made a limited edition Scotch Whisky called Black Label The Director's Cut, created by Master Blender Jim Beveridge in collaboration with Denis Villeneuve. The experimental blend comes in a futuristic bottle.
It was released on DVD, Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D and 4K Blu-ray on January 16, 2018 and distributed by Netflix and Redbox on January 23, 2018. It made approximately 26 million dollars in US sales.
Blade Runner 2049 grossed $92.1 million in the United States and Canada, and $167.2 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $259.2 million, against a production budget between $150–185 million. The projected worldwide total the film needed to gross in order to break even was estimated to be around $400 million, and in November 2017 The Hollywood Reporter wrote that the film was expected to lose the studio as much as $80 million. Scott attributed the film's underperformance to the runtime, saying: "It's slow. Long. Too long. I would have taken out half an hour."
In the United States and Canada, the film was initially projected to gross $43–47 million in its opening weekend. In September 2017, a survey from Fandango indicated that the film was one of the most anticipated releases of the season. It made $4 million from Thursday night previews, including $800,000 from IMAX theatres, but just $12.6 million on its first day, lowering weekend estimates to $32 million. It made $11.4 million on Saturday and went on to debut to $31.5 million, well below initial projections but still finishing first at the box office and marking the biggest openings of Villeneuve and Gosling's careers. Regarding the opening weekend, director Villeneuve said, "It's a mystery. All the indexes and marketing tools they were using predicted that it would be a success. The film was acclaimed by critics. So everyone expected the first weekend's results to be impressive, and they were shocked. They still don't understand."
Deadline Hollywood attributed the film's performance to the 163-minute runtime limiting the number of showtimes theaters could have, lack of appeal to mainstream audiences, and the marketing being vague and relying on nostalgia and established fanbase to carry it. In its second weekend, the film dropped 52.7% to $15.5 million, finishing second behind newcomer Happy Death Day ($26 million) and dropped another 54% in its third weekend to $7.2 million, finishing in 4th behind Boo 2! A Madea Halloween, Geostorm and Happy Death Day.
Overseas, it was expected to debut to an additional $60 million, for a worldwide opening of around $100 million. The debut ended up making $50.2 million internationally, finishing number one in 45 markets, for a global opening of $81.7 million. It made $8 million in the United Kingdom, $4.9 million in Russia, $1.8 million in Brazil and $3.6 million in Australia. It debuted in China on October 27, and made $7.7 million in its opening weekend, which was considered a disappointment.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 87% based on 357 reviews, with an average rating of 8.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Visually stunning and narratively satisfying, Blade Runner 2049 deepens and expands its predecessor's story while standing as an impressive filmmaking achievement in its own right." Metacritic, another review aggregator, assigned the film a weighted average score of 81 out of 100, based on 54 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". Critics who saw the film before its release were asked by Villeneuve not to reveal certain characters and plot points. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it a 78% overall positive score and a 60% "definite recommend".
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four, calling it an instant classic and writing: "For Blade Runner junkies like myself, who've mainlined five different versions of Ridley Scott's now iconic sci-fi film noir, [...] every minute of this mesmerizing mindbender is a visual feast to gorge on." Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film five out of five stars, praising the production design, cinematography and score, and calling the CGI some of the best he had ever seen, writing: "It just has to be experienced on the biggest screen possible. Blade Runner 2049 is a narcotic spectacle of eerie and pitiless vastness, by turns satirical, tragic and romantic." A. O. Scott of The New York Times described the film as "a carefully engineered narrative puzzle" that "tries both to honor the original and to slip free of its considerable shadow", and mostly succeeds. He found it, though, ultimately unequal to the original, describing Blade Runner 2049 as "a more docile, less rebellious 'improvement'". He also lauded Villeneuve's direction to which he attributed an "unnerving calm, as if he were exploring and trying to synthesize the human and mechanical sides of his own sensibility", as well as the cinematography and visual effects, which he describes as "zones of strangeness that occasionally rise to the level of sublimity".
Eric Kohn of IndieWire gave the film an A− rating, saying: "Blade Runner 2049 may not reinvent the rules for blockbuster storytelling, but it manages to inject the form with the ambitions of high art, maintaining a thrilling intensity along the way." Scott Collura of IGN awarded the film a score of 9.7 out of 10 and called it one of the best sequels ever, saying: "2049 plays off of the themes, plot, and characters of the 1982 movie without cannibalizing it or negating or retroactively ruining any of those elements. Rather, it organically expands and grows what came before. It's a deep, rich, smart film that's visually awesome and full of great sci-fi concepts, and one that was well worth the 35-year wait." Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle rated the film 3.5 out of 4 stars, labeling the film as a "quiet, thoughtful science fiction" while drawing a similarity on its tone to Villeneuve's recent film Arrival and praising the performances, particularly Gosling and Ford.
Christopher Orr writing for The Atlantic found the sequel to be a faithful and worthwhile continuation of the original film stating: "This is in part because, like its predecessor, Blade Runner 2049 is a decidedly cool artifact, and not primarily an actors' film. Villeneuve's most important collaborators are the cinematographer Roger Deakins and the production designer Dennis Gassner, who between them conjure a future world breathtaking in its decrepitude, a gorgeous ruin. From the grayed-out countrysides over which the sky has closed like a lid; to the drizzly neon decadence of Los Angeles; to a San Diego refashioned as a waste dump worthy of WALL-E; to the Ozymandian wreckage of Las Vegas—the film is a splendor of the first order." Graeme Virtue, in The Guardian stated that the film's "impact is never at the expense of visual comprehension. Characters may crash through walls but it is never unclear where those walls are in relation to the mayhem. These occasional jolts of intensity do not snap us out of the film's hypnotic spell, which remains persuasive enough to make the 163-minute duration feel like something to luxuriate in rather than an endurance test."
John Serba in his review for Mlive also saw the film as a worthy successor and continuation of the original film and capable of standing next to other strong films in this genre such as the 1927 Metropolis, stating: "Blade Runner 2049 is a feast for the eyes and intellect, and for more patient audiences. It broods so intently and for so long, its occasional bursts of violent action break the film's exquisitely meditative constitution. A key atmospheric component is the thrumming synthesizer score, by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch, emulating Vangelis' masterful original."
Michael O'Sullivan of The Washington Post put emphasis on the depiction of the villain-aspects of the industrialist played by Jared Leto stating: "In the world of 2049, there are now two kinds of replicants, in addition to people: the old, rogue versions, and a newer, more subservient variety designed by a godlike industrialist (Jared Leto portraying Wallace), who refers to his products, tellingly, as good and bad 'angels.'"
The Economist was more critical of the film, calling it a "bombastic sequel" and noting its "thin and threadbare" storyline, which was "riddled with holes", and the "little more than a cameo" appearance of Ford, despite his being used heavily in the film's promotion. Kevin Maher of The Times gave it three of five stars, claiming "a more devastatingly beautiful blockbuster has yet to be made", but concluding that the plot was lackluster.
Many publications, including Independent, Wired, Time Out, The Atlantic, io9, Collider, Mir Fantastiki, Digital Trends, Kinopoisk, among others, included Blade Runner 2049 in their lists of the best films of 2017.
The fate of K in the closing scenes of the film has been a matter of debate; some critics have suggested that his demise is open to interpretation, as it is not explicitly stated in the film that K has died. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, screenwriter Michael Green expressed surprise that K's death had been called into question, referring to the use of the "Tears in rain" musical motif in the final scene.
Reviewing the film for Vice, Charlotte Gush was critical of its portrayal of women, who she said were "either prostitutes, holographic housewives" or victims dying brutal deaths. While acknowledging that "misogyny was part of the dystopia" in Scott's 1982 original, she stated that the sequel was "eye-gougingly sexist". Writing for The Guardian, Anna Smith expressed similar concerns, stating that "sexualised images of women dominate the stunning futuristic cityscapes" and questioned whether the film catered heavily to heterosexual men. Rachael Kaines of Moviepilot countered that "the gender politics in Blade Runner 2049 are intentional": "The movie is about secondary citizens. Replicants. Orphans. Women. Slaves. Just by depicting these secondary citizens in subjugation doesn't mean that it is supportive of these depictions – they are a condemnation." Helen Lewis of the New Statesman suggested that the film is "an uneasy feminist parable about controlling the means of reproduction" and that "its villain, Niander Wallace, is consumed by rage that women can do something he cannot"
Fertility is the perfect theme for the dystopia of Blade Runner 2049, because of the western elite anxiety that over-educated, over-liberated women are having fewer children, or choosing to opt out of childbearing altogether. (One in five women is now childless by the age of 45; the rates are higher among women who have been to university.) Feminism is one potential solution to this problem: removing the barriers which make women feel that motherhood is a closing of doors. Another is to take flight, and find another exploitable class to replace human females ... Maybe androids don't dream of electric sheep, but some human men certainly dream of electric wombs.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Denis Villeneuve responded that he is very sensitive about his portrayal of women: "Blade Runner is not about tomorrow; it's about today. And I'm sorry, but the world is not kind on women." Quoting from the Variety magazine breakdown of viewer demographics for the film, Donald Clarke for The Irish Times indicated that female audiences seemed alienated from it; just eight percent of its audiences were females under 25. Esquire magazine commented on the controversial aspects of the sex scene, calling it a "robo-ménage à trois", and compared it to the sex scene between Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson in Her (2013).
Blade Runner 2049 has received numerous awards and nominations. At the 90th Academy Awards, it was nominated for five awards, winning Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects. At the 71st British Academy Film Awards, it received eight nominations, including Best Director, and won for Best Cinematography and Best Special Visual Effects. At the 23rd Critics' Choice Awards, it was nominated for seven awards, winning for Best Cinematography.
During the promotional tour for the 2015 film The Martian, Scott expressed interest in making additional Blade Runner films. In October 2017, Villeneuve said that he expected a third film would be made if 2049 was successful. Fancher, who wrote both films, said he was considering reviving an old story idea involving Deckard travelling to another country. Ford said that he would be open to returning if he liked the script.
In January 2018, Scott stated that he had "another [story] ready to evolve and be developed, [that] there is certainly one to be done for sure", referring to a third Blade Runner film.