Blade Runner is considered one of the most revolutionary sci-fi tales in movie history, but — despite outstanding praise from critics and massive influence on the genre — it actually wasn't much of a financial success. The film's theatrical run earned a mere $33 million on a $28 million budget.
Unfortunately, 30 years later, it seems that history is repeating with Blade Runner 2049.
The studio believed that its long-awaited sequel would do better at the box office. For some time, it looked like that would be the case. Reviews were stellar, as critics praised pretty much everything about the movie, which is rare for a sequel of a classic film. But the critical reception wasn't a big enough factor to help Blade Runner 2049 avoid the monetary fate of its predecessor.
'Blade Runner 2049' Is Underperforming At The Domestic Box Office
The film was, expected to have a massive $100 million opening weekend, with around $45 million coming in from the United States. However, the film ended up with a $31 million domestic opening weekend.
Jeff Goldstein, the president of #WarnerBros's domestic distribution, admitted that the studio was hoping for much higher numbers: "I'm disappointed we didn't have a larger result this weekend on behalf of the owners of the film, Alcon. We had bigger expectations for the weekend. The tracking and the advance sales indicated that there would be a stronger number."
Such low numbers are especially troubling for Warner Bros. because of the movie's considerable $155 million budget.(According to Deadline, sources close to the production revealed the budget was around $170 million.) With marketing costs and the ticket share that movie theaters receive, #DenisVillenevue's sequel is said to need a hefty $400 million or more to break even.
Now, as disappointing as these domestic figures sound, not everything is dark and gloomy for the film.
There May Still Be Hope For 'Blade Runner 2049' Overseas
The film is flopping in the United States, but surprisingly, it could have a bright future overseas. Blade Runner 2049 opened in the No. 1 spot in 45 out of the 63 markets for a total of $50.2 million. Fortunately for #Sony and Warner Bros., the amount met their aforementioned international expectations.
Those numbers also brought the film's worldwide total to $82 million, which is a good start, considering its short time in theaters. Now, there's one major player coming our way that could stomp its earnings in Europe, and that's Thor: Ragnarok, which will have an early October 24 release.
But we shouldn't worry about that competition too much either. While the Odinson will most likely leave his mark at the box office, Blade Runner 2049 still has two aces up its futuristic sleeve: China and Japan. The former is one of the most prolific box office markets, responsible for boosting several tentpoles that didn't manage to meet domestic expectations.
The latter is quite fond of the #BladeRunner universe, something that will also work in the movie's financial favor. Those factors will be a huge help for the film because according to Deadline, it could end up losing money if it doesn't reach $100 million domestically.
Ok, But What Went Wrong In The U.S.?
It's fascinating to see how a movie can perform well in certain markets while disappointing in others. Even though it's hard to pinpoint exactly what went wrong in the U.S., there are a few factors playing against this new journey through everyone's favorite bleak fictional future. First, there's the runtime. 2049 is approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes long.
That length makes it difficult for theaters to have a large number of screenings in one day, and it runs the risk of discouraging moviegoers who don't want to spend that much time sitting in a theater, regardless of how highly-regarded whatever they're watching is.
Secondly, there's the fact that Blade Runner 2049 isn't your conventional blockbuster. While I have nothing but respect for the amount of work that went behind it, it's an extremely slow movie. The story is filled to the brim with long pauses, and an overall uncomfortably quiet atmosphere.
Now, all that's left to see is whether or not audiences continue to go see it in the coming weeks, both in the U.S. and internationally. Hopefully the critical praise it's receiving — and positive word of mouth — make it more successful than the original.
How do you feel about Blade Runner 2049 falling short at the box office? Do you think it still has a shot to succeed? Let me know in the comments!