Why did Blade Runner 2049 do so bad at theaters?
Movie Review: Blade Runner is a science fiction film based on the 1968 novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by SciFi author Philip K. Dick. The lead character is Rick Deckard whose job as a “Blade Runner” is to terminate (retire) old replicants (bio-robotic human replications) who went rogue. The book became the movie “Blade Runner” starring Harrison Ford in 1982, released by Warner Bros. The film sequel, “Blade Runner 2049”, was released on October 6, 2017 and did poorly in its opening weekend. Why?
By Ray Hanania
The original film Blade Runner starring Harrison Ford didn’t do so well when it was released in the summer of 1982, although over the years as Ford’s popularity grew with major acting roles in many other movies, the film became a cult classic.
Still, there was something about the idea of a human being assigned to murder human androids, called “replicants,” that turned off a generation that was dancing to fun and happiness at discos and bars.
It was also competing with a lot of other films that were released that year, too, including: The Thing with Kurt Russell, the wildly popular SciFi classic E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, the Baby Boomer reminiscences and now cult classic Fast Times at Ridgemont High, another Horror thriller Poltergeist which went on to produce three more successful sequels, and First Blood, the first in a series staring Sylvester Stalone as “John Rambo” that later produced three more Rambo sequels.
E.T. went on to make more than $359 million and Blade Runner never made it to the top 10 revenue producing films from that year.
So why would anyone expect a sequel to a ho-hum cult classic to break the doors down now?
Harrison Ford reprises his role as the original Blade Runner who went rogue after meeting a beautiful replicant. That had a baby together which brings us to the present. Ryan Gosling is the new Blade Runner “retiring” replicants who stumbles upon a secret that ties him back to the original Blade Runner mystery and the fate of the baby.
There is something disturbing about killing replicants that are benign, not threatening and are just trying to survive in a world of brutal human beings. It’s like killing a pet. Who does that? And who wants to watch a movie about that?
Keep in mind most baby boomers who matured in the 1980s were the product of a lot of marijuana and drugs. Flower power wasn’t about bullying and drugs were mainly about expanding the mind. Today’s generations use drugs as an escape, and its created an entire industry or murder and mayhem, which has also produced a lot of popular films, like Narcos on Netflix.
It’s not like the plot of the four Terminator films starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Terminators went back into time to kill humans. Time travel and its perplexities and oddities are fascinating, ever since the Back to the Future franchise.
But Blade Runner had none of that.
Worse is that the film is 164 minutes long. That’s 2 hours and 44 minutes folks!
Anyone who misses the original Blade Runner series is probably in their 60s and can’t sit in a chair longer than 90 minutes without going needing to the bathroom, no matter how comfortable the new chase lounge chairs and food service is at modernday theaters like Emagine or Marcus Theaters, two of the most comfortable to enjoy a big screen experience.
Even worse is that the film name, Blade Runner, was hijacked to described an alleged killer, South African Oscar Pistorius who was convicted of murdering his girlfriend who was hiding in his bathroom. Pistorius was a sprint runner who had metal legs — his legs had been amputated when he was an infant.
I love SciFi films, but this one just didn’t do it for me. The first one didn’t do it for me either. It was just a crappy storyline. The original book by Philip Dick sucked. It wasn’t that great.
They should have seen this coming.
And they can’t blame it on the horror film It, based on the 1986 Stephen King book and which had good revenues, but some bad reviews. It’s Halloween season and people want horror movies, even crappy ones like It.
Blade Runner didn’t just kill sad, sorry-for replicants. It killed itself. Twice.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and columnist. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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