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Based on the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, 1982’s Blade Runner is one of those movies beloved by many tech fans. Ever since news arrived that a sequel was in development, there has been trepidation that it might not live up to the original. Thankfully, Blade Runner 2049 has received critical praise and five-star reviews, which makes its failure at the box office all the stranger.
With a budget of over $155 million, it was expected that the Harrison Ford/Ryan Gosling sci-fi drama would be as popular among audiences as it has been with critics — its Rotten Tomatoes score is currently 89 percent — but weekend forecasts have been falling since Friday. It had been expected to bring in $45 million, which itself would have been slightly disappointing, but yesterday that was lowered to $31.3 million.
According to Forbes, Blade Runner 2049 had earned just $12.7 million on Friday, including $4 million in Thursday previews alone. It also estimates that the movie will have a $32 million debut weekend, which is worse than original Blade Runner director Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant, which has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 70 percent.
“Industry expectations are for a $100 million debut globally, with approximately 50 percent of that coming from the domestic opening as industry forecasts range from $45-55 million,” reported Box Office Mojo. That now looks wildly optimistic: Blade Runner 2049 might not even make $100 million during its entire theatrical run. By comparison, Stephen King horror remake IT, which had a budget of $35 million, has brought in over $300 million at the box office so far.
So, why aren’t more people going to see a movie that some have called a “masterpiece?” A few factors have been put forward: the R-rating limits its audience (though IT has the same rating); not giving away much in the trailers hasn't helped draw in many of today’s crowds; and some people just refuse to watch any cerebral movie that goes on for nearly three hours, no matter how good its reviews are.
While the original Blade Runner is considered one of the most brilliant and influential science fiction titles of all time, it also bombed at the box office, bringing in just $32.8 million before going on to become a cult classic. It seems a lot more people understand its importance in the genre compared to those who have actually seen the movie, which could be another reason why the sequel isn’t doing as well as expected - many reviews point out that it helps to have watched the original.
Ultimately, the news is quite a disappointment for Blade Runner fans, but the overseas market could help the situation. Personally, I can’t wait to watch it.