Blade Runner 2049 is a sci-fi action spectacular, full of big stars, big stunts, and big sets. It's also the long-awaited sequel to one of the most acclaimed and beloved sci-fi films ever made. As such, Alcon Entertainment, Sony Pictures, and Warner Bros. Pictures were hoping for a big opening weekend for the film at the box office.
In the end, they got a mediocre one.
Director Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049 opened to $31.5 million in its first weekend in North America. That's a lot of money, but it's disappointing when you consider that the film came into the weekend with massive critical acclaim, an A- CinemaScore, and box office tracking that projected it would earn $45 million. The film's $150 million price tag also means it needs to meet a worldwide earnings goal of $400 million. Internationally, 2049 picked up another $50 million over the weekend, and while it has yet to open in major markets like China and Japan, this weekend's $80.5 million haul could mean the film won't meet its ultimate goal.
What happened? Well, while the audience response was strong, moviegoers who bought 2049 tickets tended to skew older, and the film also had an underwhelming turnout outside of major domestic markets. Basically, the demand for the film just wasn't as strong as the studio had hoped.
"We're disappointed it didn't have a stronger result in North America. It's a tough one, because Denis made a beautiful movie," Warners domestic distribution chief Jeff Goldstein said. "We definitely played to a more narrow audience than we had hoped for. Where we did do business was in the major markets."
The good news is the remarkable level of acclaim the film is getting, which could mean considerable word of mouth will keep propelling it forward at the box office. There's also a very strong chance that we'll hear about it a lot come awards season, in much the same way that Mad Max: Fury Road garnered lots of Oscar attention.
Did you go to see Blade Runner 2049 this weekend? If not, why not?