“Blade Runner 2049” landed over the weekend with an unexpected whimper at the box office. The sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 science-fiction landmark only opened to $32.7 million, which means it’s going to be near impossible for the film to turn a profit opposite its estimated $300 million production and marketing budget. Villeneuve spoke with Vulture about the sequel’s box office and expressed a level of disappointment only because he doesn’t want the film to lose money for the crew.
“As a filmmaker, I’m not arrogant,” he said, alluding to the fact that he doesn’t take on projects based on whether or not they will be box office hits and elevate his name in the industry. “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.”
Warner Bros.’ marketing for the film has been one of the key reasons people think the film missed the mark at the box office. Trailers and clips for the movie kept all plot specifics hidden out of fear of spoilers (Warner Bros. had said that even just saying the plot of the film would count as a spoiler), which ended up failing to create interest among the key demographic of non-“Blade Runner” fans. According to PostTrack, 65% of the film’s audience was made up of males and a whopping 77% was moviegoers over the age of 25, meaning the film failed to breakout of its core fan base.
Villeneuve supports Warner Bros.’ decision, however, and he ultimately requested the movie not be screened at any fall film festivals so that spoilers could be preserved. Villeneuve even requested for K’s identity as a replicant or a human to be left out of all reviews.
“I liked the idea that you were supposed to learn it as the movie goes on,” he said. “As a cinephile, one of my best experiences was when I was on a film festival jury. I had to watch 20 movies without knowing anything about them. You don’t know the genre, you don’t know the country, you don’t know the story. You don’t know if you’re about to look at a comedy or a horror movie!”
Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros.’ domestic distribution president, admitted the company had overestimated the appeal of “Blade Runner” in a statement made to Reuters following the disappointing box office numbers. “The audience for it was narrower than we anticipated. We did well in the major and high-profile markets. Alcon and Denis made an amazing movie.”
“Blade Runner 2049” is now playing in theaters nationwide.