‘Blade Runner 2049’ is almost here. Stephen Vaughan/Alcon Entertainment
While full reviews for Denis Villeneuve‘s Blade Runner 2049 are still a week away, Warner Bros. did lift the social media embargo today. That means critics have been able to discuss their reactions to the film and, well, it sounds like the best movie of 2017 (so far) has arrived. Warner Bros.’ dominant year continues.
Admittedly, we’re not that surprised. Blade Runner is considered by many to be the greatest sci-fi film of all time, Villeneuve is one of Hollywood’s best working directors and 2049 put together an absolutely stellar cast. That’s an obvious recipe for success, especially for fans of the original.
Hopefully, the sequel connects with general audiences and can work with It and Kingsman: The Golden Circle to help drag cinema out of a putrid box office summer. At its core, 2049 should have cross-generational appeal thanks to 1982’s original. Pairing Harrison Ford (coming off Star Wars: The Force Awakens) with Ryan Gosling (coming off La La Land) doesn’t hurt its box office prospects either.
Most importantly, though, is that 2049 looks like a real winner. Can it sneak into the Oscars race like Villeneuve’s Arrival did last year? Historically, the Academy has looked down upon the sci-fi, but that paradigm is beginning to change and Villeneuve is known for his emotional storytelling.
Bade Runner 2049 stars Gosling, Ford, Ana de Armas, Robin Wright, Jared Leto, Mazkenzie Davis, Dave Bautista and more familiar faces (we told you it was a stellar cast). It will hit theaters on October 6.
‘Blade Runner 2049’ arrives on October 6. Courtesy of Alcon Entertainment
The fate of an entire production company rests in the hands of the upcoming Blade Runner 2049. Alcon Entertainment is known as a quality studio that consistently produces one-off smaller-scale hits. Past successes include: The Blind Side, Prisoners and P.S. I Love You. But the financial crisis of the 2010s put Alcon into a precarious position: go big or go home.
“If you don’t have repetitive cash flow, which is a fancy way of saying being in the sequel business, you are going to be in trouble eventually,” producer Andrew Kosove told THR.
So the powers that be at Alcon Entertainment decided to swing for the fences and after whiffing badly on the 2015 Point Break remake ($133 million worldwide off a $105 million budget), they’re down to their last strike.
“This is a chips-in-the-center-of-the-table exercise,” Kosove surmised. In order for Alcon to survive and keep making good movies, what kind of money does Blade Runner 2049 need to make?
The picture cost quite a bit at $150 million and insiders tell THR that it will need to gross at least $400 million worldwide to be considered a win. That’s a huge chunk of change, especially for an R-rated sequel arriving 35 years after the first film flopped at the box office. Further complicating 2049‘s path to success is its October 6 release date. That Friday will mark the fourth straight weekend featuring an adult male-skewing wide release following American Assassin, Kingsman: The Golden Circle and American Made. Will audiences be burned out by that time? At first glance, we’re skeptical the movie can reach the $400 million benchmark.
But 2049 does have a lot of good things going for it. First and foremost, the early buzz suggests this movie may very well be a masterpiece and the best of the year. Universally good reviews and strong word of mouth are crucial to box office prospects. The fact that it’s a sequel to the 1982 Blade Runner also helps from a reputation standpoint as the original is widely considered today to be the greatest sci-fi film of all time. There’s going to be a lot of cross-generational interest here.
The talent will draw audiences in as well. Ryan Gosling (fresh off the Oscar-winning La La Land) and original star Harrison Ford (coming off of Star Wars: The Force Awakens) are big leads in their own right. Director Denis Villeneuve is one of Hollywood’s best filmmakers and is coming off the Oscar-nominated Arrival. Those are all heavy hitters.
For what it’s worth: Box Office Pro, which specializes in long range forecasts, projected last month that 2049 would open to $44 million and end with a domestic total of $115 million. Considering the surprisingly leggy Arrival (4.1x multiplier), it’s possible that the movie takes in a bit more domestically. Fingers crossed Blade Runner 2049 lives up to the hype and makes enough money to keep Alcon Entertainment in the business of making good movies.
“If it works, it transforms what we do,” co-producer Broderick Johnson said.
Will ‘Blade Runner 2049’ Be the Next ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’?
What should the studio expect from ‘Blade Runner 2049’ at the box office? Stephen Vaughan/Alcon Entertainment
If Blade Runner 2049 doesn’t earn at least $400 million worldwide, film studio Alcon Entertainment will be in very serious trouble. So is that goal attainable? Let’s break it down.
Deadline is reporting that tracking numbers suggest a domestic opening of $45 million and a worldwide opening of $100 million. Considering that it’s a hard R-rated film, that’s not bad at all. However, Blade Runner 2049 carries with it a production budget of $155 million, with insiders telling Deadline that the real number is closer to $175 million. Given that, you’d like to see a slightly higher take. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that internal estimates over at Sony peg the opening closer to $48 million to $52 million.
Working in the film’s favor are its two strong leads with through-the-roof recency bias appeal in Ryan Gosling (coming off the Oscar-winning La La Land) and original star Harrison Ford (coming off Star Wars: The Force Awakens). Director Denis Villeneuve is one of the best filmmakers in all of Hollywood and the 35-year-old property should have cross-generational appeal. Most importantly, the film is being universally lauded by critics as one of the best movies of 2017.
However, it’s also a dense sci-fi meditation that runs close to three hours, limiting the amount of showings theaters can post in a single day. It also has a handful of still-running and new movie competition that will nibble into its total take.
The best case scenario would be for Blade Runner 2049 to play like Mad Max: Fury Road, another requel of a popular 1980s property that posted solid box office numbers and garnered several Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. Fury Road opened to $45.4 million domestic before going on to earn $378.8 million worldwide, per Box Office Mojo. While not a perfect comparison—Fury Road was a shorter movie in a longer-running franchise—this would be a solid marker of success for 2049.
Let’s assume the Gosling-Ford flick carries the same multiplier as Fury Road (3.3x), approximates the same domestic/overseas splits (40 percent vs 60 percent) and opens on the higher end of expectations ($50 million). By that logic, we’re looking at a domestic total of over/under $165 million and an overseas gross of around $248 million (which is asking a lot of foreign markets). In this scenario, we get a worldwide gross of over/under $413 million, meeting Alcon’s needs. That’s fine and dandy…and likely optimistic
If 2049 opens around Deadline’s $45 million expectations, it may struggle to cross the $400 million mark. If that were the case, Alcon would still be praised for delivering a critically acclaimed feature (Villeneuve’s Arrival snuck into the Best Picture race last year), but would probably ending up losing money. Realistically, the movie may play more like Tron: Legacy, which did well in the U.S. ($172 million off a $44 million opening), but slowed down overseas ($228 million). If that were the case, Blade Runner 2049 may finish its run right around the $400 million mark, but it’ll be close.
So let’s hope for the best, but temper our expectations with this pricey endeavor.