It's quite an experience to live in fear — especially when your ultra-expensive sci-fi spectacle is bombing at the box office. While it was one of the most eagerly anticipated films of 2017 and a universal hit with critics, alas, Blade Runner 2049 is proving to be a massive disappointment for Alcon Entertainment, the company that produced it.
Per The Hollywood Reporter, the 164-minute sci-fi sequel stands to lose $80 million for Alcon's investors. This after Blade Runner 2049 tallied up just $86 million domestically upon opening in early October on a whopping 4,000 screens. It fared a little better abroad, grossing $155 million worldwide for a total haul to date of $241 million.
But considering everything the follow-up to Ridley Scott's 1982 landmark had going for it — a rising auteur in Denis Villeneuve (Scott opted to produce this time around), Harrison Ford returning to another of his iconic '80s roles in Rick Deckard, and Ryan Gosling in the lead role of K — 2049 looks to be replicating the results of its predecessor.
Some box-office analysts blamed the film's failure on the lack of a clear marketing hook and the fact that trying to catch up with the story felt like homework given the many versions of the film out there (a Director's Cut and Final Cut chief among them), each with very different endings.
But when asked whether holding back much of the plot in 2049's advertising might have boosted its box-office prospects, especially with female audiences had women known more about the love story between K and his holographic girlfriend, Joi, Villeneuve was circumspect.
"As a filmmaker, I'm not arrogant," the director told Vulture recently. "People put a lot of money in the movie to allow me to make something like Blade Runner. They trusted me, and they gave me a lot of freedom, and they are friends. So of course I want the movie to be a success at the end of the day. It's a long journey, but I want them not to lose money."
The financial failure is expected to doom prospects for a third Blade Runner flick (and 2049 easily left the door open for another installment). But if there's a silver lining, it's likely that, like the original, Blade Runner 2049 will achieve cinematic glory as a cult classic faster than you can say attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.