There are science fiction films which stand as among the most influential and important in the genre: “Metropolis,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “The Matrix,” and, of course, Ridley Scott’s masterpiece “Blade Runner.” That last film wasn’t always the beloved classic it is now — in fact, it was considered a flop upon its theatrical debut in 1982. “Blade Runner” also didn’t truly become a classic until Harrison Ford‘s needless narration as Rick Deckard was stripped away and the film was re-edited to its final version.
Despite the delay, though, Scott’s adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” is now seen as a sci-fi benchmark, a movie that many other sci-fi movies aspire towards. So, you can imagine that there was a great deal of pressure surrounding the idea of a continuation of that legendary story.
Enter director Denis Villeneuve, who — hot off the massive success of his Amy Adams starring film “Arrival” — probably could’ve done anything he wanted next. What he chose to do was a sequel: “Blade Runner 2049.” A gamble, to be sure.
And now, as Villeneuve is set to debut what is arguably an even bigger gamble — his adaptation of Frank Herbert’s arguably un-adaptable “Dune” — the director looks back on “Blade Runner 2049” and marvels that he actually pulled it off.
“Dune” is not an easy film to adapt. Alejandro Jodorowsky failed to adapt it and David Lynch’s version didn’t fare well, either. In fact, Lynch’s adaptation is almost a reverse “Blade Runner” in that its “Alan Smithee” cut actually adds in narration to explain what exactly is going on (via Gizmodo).
As Villeneuve braces himself for the response to his “Dune,” it’s worth noting that “Blade Runner 2049” was not the box office success people were hoping for. Despite being popular with critics and fans alive (per Rotten Tomatoes), the film only pulled in around $260 million worldwide from a $150 million production budget. That fact, combined with the risk that the film was from the outset, left Denis Villeneuve surprised how his career has proceeded since
“The miracle for me about ‘Blade Runner 2049’ is the following: I’m still making movies and you’re still talking to me,” Villeneuve revealed during an interview with the “Happy Sad Confused” podcast.
“I knew that when I did this movie I flirted with disaster,” he says. “I put myself into massive artistic danger. That was walking, as Christopher Nolan said to me once … walking on sacred territory. It’s true. It was sacrilegious what I did. I was told, ‘You don’t do that.’ Just the fact that I’m still here making movies, for me … at least I wasn’t banned from the filmmaker community. It was a dangerous game.”
Will Villeneuve’s take on “Dune” be the success where all previous attempts have failed, or will it be the movie that gets him banned from film making forever? We’ll find out more about “Dune” when it debuts in theaters and on HBO Max beginning October 22.