‘Blade Runner 2049’s’ Denis Villeneuve Discusses Film’s Box-Office Failure

Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 was undeniably a critical success; the picture was lauded by the film community, and is certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, with a score of 87%.

It has been called a masterpiece so many times, that the language around the film is itself a news story.

Yet, despite all of this, the film was far from a box-office success.

With a production budget of $150 million, Blade Runner’s domestic earnings were a disappointing $89 million.

Although it did muster up $252 million worldwide, it’s unlikely Warner Bros. made much of a profit after the marketing budget is added in.

In a recent interview with Yahoo Entertainment, the film’s director Denis Villeneuve attempts to break down the box-office failure of his ‘masterpiece’.

“I’m still digesting it. It had the best [reviews] of my life. I never had a movie welcomed like that. At the same time, the box office in the United States was a disappointment, that’s the truth, because those movies are expensive. It will still make tons of money but not enough. The thing I think is that, it was maybe because people were not familiar enough with the universe. And the fact the movie’s long. I don’t know, it’s still a mystery to me.”

Villeneuve has touched on at least one possible reason for the box-office struggle.

Simple mathematics dictate that the longer the film, the fewer screenings available.

RELATED:  'Memoria' Review - A Mosaic of Memories

2049 is 2 hours and 44 minutes, so including trailers and pre-show advertising, the total in-theatre time could end up at 3 hours.

That being said, 2049 isn’t the first long film to be released, and so its problems can’t just end there.

Villeneuve also touches on another issue; familiarity with the universe.

Although the original Blade Runner (1982) is now considered one of the greats, this was a function of its subsequent director’s cut and cult status, rather than its initial release and mixed reviews.

Perhaps this is just history repeating itself; 2049 may break out on streaming and other home media, just as its predecessor did with home video.

Regardless, Villeneuve has certainly not failed; the reviews speak for themselves and 2049 will without a doubt earn Oscar nominations for the effects and photography (at least).

The box-office troubles won’t hurt his career going forward either; he’s already on to direct the next attempt at a Dune adaptation.

And one look at his previous filmography (which includes 2016’s Arrival, and 2015’s Sicario) tells you all you need to know about his future – Villeneuve is a game-changing story-teller, and he will continue to make an impression for years to come.

Check out my review of Blade Runner 2049 here.

blade runner

From left to right: Denis Villeneuve, Ridley Scott, Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling on the set of Blade Runner 2049.

63 posts

About author
Mogwai on the inside, gremlin on the outside. Deserted Island Movie Collection: The films of John Landis. Best Movie Snack: Maltesers


Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Please leave your thoughts!x