Fans and critics may have loved Blade Runner 2049, but its production was costly, and it’s doomed to go down as a box office failure. This is most likely because it’s a sequel to a cult classic that came out 30 years ago, which means it didn’t have that broad audience appeal that blockbusters rely upon. Though Ridley Scott has another opinion on why it failed…he thinks it was too long.
Ridley Scott is on the press rounds for his movie All the Money in the World, you know the one that he saved by replacing Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer. During one interview he was asked about the reception to Blade Runner 2049 and Ridley Scott is never the candid one not only did he say the movie was too long, but he also reveals most of the script was directly from him. Here’s what he said to Vulture:
“I have to be careful what I say. It was f*****g way too long. F*** me! And most of that script’s mine…I sit with writers for an inordinate amount of time and I will not take credit, because it means I’ve got to sit there with a tape recorder while we talk. I can’t do that to a good writer. But I have to, because to prove I’m part of the actual process, I have to then have an endless amount [of proof], and I can’t be bothered.”
Then in a separate interview, Ridley Scott added
“But the big idea comes from Blade Runner. Tyrell is a trillionaire, maybe 5 to 10 percent of his business is AI. Like God, he has created perfect beings that, for all intents and purposes, there is no telling the difference from humans. Then he says, ‘You know what? I’m going to create an AI. I’ll have a male and female, they will not know that they’re both AIs, I’ll have them meet each other, they will fall in love, they will consummate, and they will have a child.’ That’s the first film. The second film is, what happens to the baby? You’ve got to have the baby, you can’t have the mother, so the mother has to inexplicably die four months after she breastfeeds. The bones are found in the box at the foot of the tree, that’s all me. And the digital girlfriend is me. I wanted an evolution from Pris, who is inordinately sexy in the original, right?”
Ridley Scott also said that he personally “would have taken out half an hour.” Blade Runner 2049 is 2 hours and 43 minutes, so there’s a lot to the movie even if Scott were to cut 30 minutes of the runtime out. But it’s not his movie. Denis Villeneuve was at the helm for the sequel, and the studio supported his vision. In the interview, Scott also talked about his specific contributions to the story.
Despite the positive reception, Blade Runner 2049 managed to make only $258.2 million worldwide from a $150 million production budget, which most likely doesn’t even include all the marketing costs. Do you think a shorter movie would have fixed that? Hard to say, but who knows maybe it couldn’t have hurt.