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It doesn’t matter that BLADE RUNNER 2049 bombed

[This is an altered version of a post originally featured on Hidden Remote – Originally posted 22nd October 2017]

Box office totals should not matter when it comes to movies, especially when films are as incredible as BLADE RUNNER 2049.

Denis Villeneuve’s BLADE RUNNER 2049 is a blessing, something unlike the current crop of movies out today. But it’s not making money in the US, domestically pulling in just under $67 million after two weeks. This isn’t good for Warner Bros., Sony and Alcon Entertainment financially seeing as its production budget was around $150 million. Little wonder why everyone is shouting, “flop.”

Spencer Kohout on the site has already touched on the reasons why he thinks Blade Runner 2049 bombed, however I feel there are some points to be put forward saying that this isn’t really the case.

Domestically in the United States, the film is not doing very well at all.  But in the United Kingdom, the film opened to $8 million on its opening weekend, that may not seem like a lot but in the UK that is more than MAD MAX: FURY ROAD did, a film that in the US was considered a ‘hit’.  Also, lets not forget that BLADE RUNNER 2049 hasn’t yet opened in Japan and China, therefore, it would be foolish to consider it a box office failure. If we are being honest this also raises the idea that American takings in the box office don’t really matter anymore (or at least it’s shifting that way).

Film critic Mark Kermode has put an argument forward that the film isn’t really a flop, that the discussion around female representation in the film is proof of progression in the minds of audiences, and that it’s a clear example that “critics aren’t in charge of box office” contrary to what some people are saying.  The point he makes that strikes me most in the video is this:

“BLADE RUNNER 2049 is a complex beast.  Some people love it, some people hate it.  I think in the end judging it on its box office isn’t fair to the film.  I think it will have long-lasting status, and I think it will be accepted as a classic.  But you know what, I don’t actually care how much money it takes. I’m just kinda glad it exists.”

Roger Deakins is responsible for the completely phenomenal visuals, the trailer below is just a taster of what is experienced on the big screen.  It is also quite telling that Denis Villeneuve had directed ARRIVAL in 2016, a film that was staggering in the scale it presented yet focused solely on the human aspect of the screenplay. Combining these two extraordinary talents together meant that the visuals, no matter how breathtaking they are (at points I did say “WOW” in the cinema), we never ever lose sight of the characters.

This is a far cry from some recent blockbusters that have had great visuals yet lose themselves when it comes to storytelling. Recent sci-fi examples include the live-action remake of GHOST IN THE SHELL and TRON LEGACY. Films I liked for what they tried to do, but lacked something that BLADE RUNNER 2049 had in abundance, an investment in the characters emotional journey.

The film follows all the tropes of a classic film noir, just like Ridley Scott’s BLADE RUNNER did in 1982. BLADE RUNNER when it came out in 1982 famously flopped in the box office, yet its stature grew over time. The visuals were unlike anything that had been seen at the time, and even to this day Douglas Trumbulls SFX work still holds up. It influenced the Cyberpunk genre, film, video games and, with the Vangelis score, music.

The influence of BLADE RUNNER 2049 will be telling in years to come, I sincerely believe that it will be a work that will be examined in the greater context of science fiction and in cinema. Even with the stars begging to be explored I am thankful a vision of an alternate future that looks and feels stunning.

I can’t say more on BLADE RUNNER 2049 without giving away spoilers, something that is very hard to do. So here is Hideo Kojima (of Metal Gear Solid and the upcoming Death Stranding fame) on the film (in a fantastic piece on Rolling Stone found here):

“It is the sublimation of mysteries sprinkled throughout the original, of 35 years of fantasizing and pondering questions left unanswered. What’s more, the film’s underlying structure and attention to detail are BLADE RUNNER through and through, while at once becoming Denis Villeneuve’s new vision of BLADE RUNNER 2049. It is a miraculous work.”

Denis Villeneuve is following this with his interpretation of the ‘epic’ Frank Herbert classic, DUNE; another chance for him to showcase his talent in a sci-fi world.

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