Blade Runner 2049 Director Is Still Wrapping His Head Around Why It Underperformed

Blade Runner 2049 was a critical darling, getting a largely raving reception, but audiences didn't seem to reciprocate. The movie had lacklustre success, failing to bring in little more than half its budget domestically. And while it's done better overseas, director Denis Villeneuve is struggling to understand why the movie was such a box office disappointment - though it could be history repeating itself.

Image: Warner Bros.

In an interview with Yahoo! Entertainment, Villeneuve was asked about how he felt about the movie's less-than-stellar performance in the United States over the past month, making little over $US90 million ($118 million) so far. In short, he's still trying to figure it out. As he mentioned in the chat, the movie did well overseas, where it brought in over $US150 million ($197 million), but it isn't enough to make 2049 a commercial hit. Villeneuve said he's having trouble grasping why a movie that was so beloved by critics ended up being rejected by audiences, hypothesising that it could be because the series' universe wasn't familiar enough for people to want to spent time in it, especially since the film was so long (clocking in at nearly three hours long).

Honestly, I don't know because we had the best critics. I'm still digesting it. I had the best critics of my life, I've never had a movie welcome like that, OK? At the same time, the box office in the United States was a disappointment, that's the truth. Because those movies are expensive, and it will still make tons of money but not enough. I think the thing is that it's maybe because people were not familiar enough with the universe, and the fact that the movie's long. I don't know, it's still a mystery to me.

However, the actual reason could be, as Villeneuve later pointed out, that it's simply history repeating itself. The original Blade Runner wasn't a smash, only bringing in $US27 million during its theatrical run, but it's since become one of the most iconic sci-fi films of all time. That seemed to ensure victory for its highly lauded follow-up. Blade Runner 2049 was supposed to be the box office hit that Blade Runner fans insist the original deserved to be. Instead, it might be another situation where the film's legacy is defined well after it came out in theatres.

That's the first thing one of my sons told me: "Papa you honour the first movie until the very end." Because the first movie had the same fate. The original Blade Runner when it came out wasn't a success, and through time became was it is today. I was not looking for that. But what I really am at peace with is the hard core fans that love the first movie really welcome this one, and that for me it means the world.

I suppose we'll have to wait and see what happens over the next 30 years, to see if Blade Runner 2049 truly follows in its predecessor's footsteps. You can watch the entire interview below.

[via CinemaBlend]

WATCH MORE: Entertainment News


    That's damned disappointing. Especially since moments from 2049 still keep haunting me. It's a guaranteed 4K disc purchase for me.

    My partner was utterly disinterested in watching this one after watching the first... I'm wondering if that affected others. In the end, it meant I watched in by my solitary self, but I kind of feel like that was actually the best way to watch it.

      It's actually not that complicated. He shouldn't beat up himself over it.

      We live in a world where the Transformer movies smash the box office, 9 out of 10 movies are 'popcorn' super hero films, Justin Bieber is a huge selling 'artist', McDonalds is the number one selling meal, and Trump is in the White House!

      If you don't sell well to the 'masses' - unfortunately it just means you may have made something truly good.

      What truly scares me is if movies like this stop being made and we are left with just Marvel and Transformers - it is a world predicted by Idiocracy (look it up) truly happening!!

      Last edited 23/11/17 9:34 pm

    Because Americans

    It was ok in parts, but no classic. I think the connection to the old movie held it back, and the casting of Ryan, and the blind joker guy was a mistake. Good actors, wrong movie. To pretty.

      Wooooot! It was a classic, start to finish. But like it or not it doesn't explain why people didn't go and watch. Did thay not give it enough hype?

        I also loved it lee, but I am a fan of Villeneuve's also, so Im biased, Ive lost count of how many times I've watched Arrival and Sicario ;)
        I think that the audience for a film like this is shrinking, its really that simple, and to make films like this you need to keep the budget down, something I think they may have gone a "little" overboard on. I'm not saying that audiences nowadays are "young and dumb" though, far from it, they are just a product of our time, if I released 2001 today it would flop also. Bladerunner was and always will be a film for movie "nerds/geeks". People who like the small subtle detail, its almost a set of movie's for "Aspies"... haha.

    I think it didn't do well at the box office because it's a niche movie. It doesn't have mass market appeal. I bet there are a lot of people under thirty that have either never seen or heard of the original and so had no interest in seeing the sequel. I thought it was a good movie but my friends reactions ranged from 'It was ok' to "What a waste of 3 hours'.

      Good point. You do have to see original for context and some of what was visionary 35 years ago probably doesn’t resonate with young audiences. Equally I can’t get through some of the marvel films today.

    On the other hand I thought it was a faint shadow when compared to the original. The movie emphasised things like flying cars but failed to develop a story. The good guys win but are no different at the end than when they started.

    Well, I loved it. That should be enough but unfortunately economics dictate whether similar movies are made the in the future...

    The plot was razor thin, the characters were not compelling enough for it to be a character study and while it was certainly visually pretty, it kinda blended into the landscape of sci-fi films... to top it off it was THREE HOURS. I just think it doesn't stand out in the same way that the original did.

    Also if lead actor attractiveness has anything to do with it, I'd take a young Harrison Ford from the original over present day Ryan Gossling.

    The first Blade Runner released 35 years ago! What do you expect? A bunch of 50-65 year olds are going to rush out to the theaters to pay $20 a ticket?

    The reason it didn't do as well as it SHOULD have is because of the demographic. There were a LOT of young people who had never seen the first movie, and therefore did not appreciate the second. They just didn't get it. 35 years ago I was one of those young people and I LOVED the original and I got it then- I get it now so it meant much more to me even as an old fart. If you consider the fact that the majority of the people who watched the original when it came out WERE young scifi fans (like me) then those same people are going to watch the sequel.
    There was also not enough promotion of the original movie in a timely manner to coincide with the new release. It's all about awareness and education. The bluray director's cut came out quite some time ago and people such as myself bought it but most kids aren't going to sit with their parents to watch what they perceive as a "shitty old scifi" with "has been" sfx.

    Maybe people are finally getting sick of unnecessary sequels to movies that are decades old

    Personally, I loved the original, love the final Director's cut even more, and I have no interest in seeing the sequel. Ever.

    It's an answer to a question that was never asked.

      ditto, I saw it, and thought it NEVER should have been made, its like a sequel to gone with the wind.. totally unnecessary .

      Last edited 24/11/17 7:59 am

    Never saw the original. Didn’t hear the reviews so I wasn’t swayed one way or another.
    Saw a trailer for it and was left with absolutely no desire to watch the movie. I’m not a fan of Ryan Gosling so that doesn’t help things.
    Not sure if I’ll ever watch it.

    So many times nothing was happening on screen and I realised everyone, including thw actors, were just waiting for a long Hans Zimmer(?) note to finish.

    I like the soundtrack btw.

    Last edited 24/11/17 9:15 am

      Those long, sweeping pans were the first thing I thought could be sped up, or truncated [or both]. A gratuitous nudity scene [birth of a replicant ] had a monologue so dull, the whole scene should have been cut. The fight in Los Vegas dragged on for too long.

      By about the 2 1/2 hour mark I was thinking: "Hurry up and finish, I need to go pee"

    I can tell you exactly why this film failed. It's pretty simple.
    1. Movie critics are not average film watchers. How a director doesn't know this is beyond me. Ever notice how lots of films are "critically acclaimed" but also fail to recoup their costs?
    2. The original Blade Runner was good, but also kind of boring. It's a seminal sci-fi film, but not to everyone's taste.
    3. Most of the money for films seems to come from the kiddies these days. The original Blade Runner wouldn't have held their attention, so why do you think a longer, duller sequel would?
    4. The film was, frankly, a bit dull. This is the most important point. Great cinematography, but a lack luster story. I didn't mind the story as an unecessary sequel to the original, but it also wasn't particularly interesting. I'd even suggest that unless you were a fan of the original, the story wouldn't be have any relevance at all. Given that the original was 35 years ago, what did they really expect?
    5. Ryan Gosling actually doesn't act, he just stands there with no expression.

      I agree with points 1 and 3.
      Point 2, sure, people who don't like Sci Fi wouldn't have liked the original, or the sequel, but they aren't really an expected audience, so they had little to do with its success/failure.
      Point 4, I never found the story dull, far from it, it ventured much deeper than the first film in its attempt to show what it means to be human. The visuals etc were just icing on the cake to me.
      Point 5 is a common complaint I read, and there's a very logical reason for it. We are constantly shown through the movie that if Gosling's character shows ANY emotion, he gets sent to the scrap heap (remember the "Voight-Kampff" styled test to prove that he is “baseline"... he had to literally show zero emotion to pass). Ryan really had no choice to play his part as anything but "wooden" when you think about it.

        Sorry that should have just been "wooden", not "anything but wooden". I would have edited it, but Gizmodo seems to be the only site on the internet that wont allow edits. Sure you can edit, but it will sit awaiting a moderators approval for many years to come...

          Sorry about that - it's a bug where we don't see edited comments that need moderation on our end. We are working on a fix.

        As for point 4, I'd say that's exactly why it didn't suceed. You liked it, I didn't mind it, but clearly most people weren't impressed. You're watching a story; if the story doesn't connect with people, it's not a good story (at least in terms of wide money-making appeal).
        And as for point 5, great. So he got a role that required to him to act exactly how he does, and the film still sucked. Hardly a point in his favour. That may be a good theoretical idea (a character that must be completely emotionless), but it doesn't translate well to film.

          Look Chompers... leave my Ryan alone will you.
          Ill admit he's no "DeNiro", but he still damned cute ok!

    Haven't seen it yet, but still debating as to whether I should, Ryan Gosling looks pretty bad in the trailers, he was completely the wrong person to cast in this role. What's with casting all these pretty-boy actors who can't carry off a scene nowadays?

    I can tell you why I didn't go and see it in three words: 'nearly three hours'! And I was so excited to see this. I've seen the original many times and own the Directors Cut on DVD. I'd rather wait till I can watch 2049 in the comfort of my own home, even though the experience will pall by comparison.

    HYPE! Hype about films can be the biggest killer. People go in with the exception of the world, and if it falls short?........ And one happy customer gets you one new customer, one unhappy customer lose you 3 customers. And the box office weekend takings ARE??? the takings on Blade Runner where ???? for the first month. Some movies took 4 wks to find an audience and now you have 72 hrs. And in Australia we have to fight (The)Village(idiot) Roadshow...If they don't want to show it in a cinema near you or any cinema!! Lego Movie!!

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