Blade Runner 2049 just can’t catch a break. After the film underperformed domestically, producers had hoped to recoup costs overseas. But the film has now bombed in China as well, crushing any hope left for the cerebral sci-fi sequel to turn a significant profit. But that doesn’t stop the film from being good, so word that a much longer cut of the already long film once existed should intrigue those of you who loved the film.
Blade Runner 2049 is unlike any other modern big budget sci-fi film. It’s cerebral, and introspective, and at times dizzying. And apparently that’s exactly what audiences did not want. Denis Villeneuve‘s epic, lengthy sequel to Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic underperformed at the domestic box office – it has made only $81 million there so far. When a film does poorly in the U.S., there’s always a chance that overseas box office, particularly China, might save the day. But alas, Blade Runner 2049 had no luck on that front either.
Blade Runner 2049‘s Chinese release had been delayed to October 27, but that couldn’t save the film. Per Forbes, Blade Runner 2049 will only end up earning about 55-60 million RMB in its opening weekend in China, which only amounts to about $8.3-9 million USD. Even U.S. box office bomb Geostorm beat Blade Runner 2049 in China, earning $10.1 million. Ouch.
I have no doubt that in years to come, Blade Runner 2049 will be embraced, which is exactly what happened with the original Blade Runner. For now, though, the film is a major dud. Hopefully this won’t send a message to studios to avoid taking chances on big budget R-rated tone poems, but I fear it might.
Blade Runner 2049: The Even Longer Cut!
Blade Runner 2049 was a lot of things, but one thing it wasn’t was short. Clocking-in at nearly 3 hours, the film’s seemingly interminable length might have played a part in turning some audiences off. Yet as long as Blade Runner 2049 is, it was, at one point, even longer. In a lengthy, in-depth interview with Provideo Coalition, Blade Runner 2049 editor Joe Walker talks about a 4-hour assembly cut of the film; a cut so long that Walker had to divide it into two parts. Per Collider:
The first assembly of the film was nearly four hours and for convenience sake and – to be honest – my bladder’s sake, we broke it into two for viewings. That break revealed something about the story – it’s in two halves. There’s K discovering his true past as he sees it and at the halfway mark he kind of loses his virginity. (laughs) The next morning, it’s a different story, about meeting your maker and ultimately sacrifice – “dying is the most human thing we do”. Oddly enough both halves start with eyes opening. There’s the giant eye opening at the beginning of the film and the second when Mariette wakes up and sneaks around K’s apartment, the beginning of the 1st assembly part 2. We toyed with giving titles to each half but quickly dropped that. But what does remain is that there’s something of a waking dream about the film. That’s a very deliberate choice in terms of visuals but also the kind of pace they were striving for on set and the hallucinatory feel in the cut – it’s the kind of dream where you tread inexorably closer to the truth.
It’s worth noting that all assembly cuts of films are extremely long; usually, they include almost every bit of footage shot, all cut together, in order for the director to start shaping the film into a more concise final form. But Walker also mentions several deleted scenes in his interview. Per The Playlist:
Denis doesn’t like deleted scenes on BluRays and I tend to agree. There’s a reason why you chop scenes out and although I respect the fact that there’s some fan interest out there, we wanted to make one definitive cut of Blade Runner 2049. In reality, there weren’t so many whole scenes to cut because it’s a story that develops piece by piece – remove any substantial piece and the edifice collapses. So we had the challenge of bringing down the length but if you merely cut things faster so that they’re just “fast” then the whole film motors on without the audience. The right version is the one that allows you time to peer into the souls of the character, interspersed with some very dynamic moments of destructiveness. We were also trying to create a dreamlike quality. There are takes where Ryan walked through the desert faster but the shots that sang this song more clearly were the ones where K slowed his pace.
So what could we cut? Firstly, a lot of connective tissue and bridges. For example, there was a really magnificent aerial sequence when K and Joi fly to Las Vegas. It was one of those rare occasions when it was raining on the hills outside Las Vegas, God’s contribution to Blade Runner 2049. But it just felt more impactful to go straight to the pilot fish’s view of this strange landscape and hear K’s distorted commands, to skip ahead of the audience for a while. For the vast bulk of the tightenings, we pared the dialogue down to the minimum amount you could get away with, allowing us to play the beats that remained very intensely.
Since Walker mentions that Villeneuve isn’t a fan of deleted scenes on Bly-ray releases, it’s unlikely we’ll ever get to see them. Not that audiences seem like they’re dying to see anything Blade Runner 2049-related now anyway,
Blade Runner 2049 is still playing in a few theaters. If you haven’t seen it yet, I urge you to try to catch it on the biggest screen possible. It really is quite good! I swear!
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Source: Slash Film