Blade Runner 2049 DVD CoverRidley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi noir Blade Runner introduced a dystopian vision of future LA and artificial humans. 35 years later, original writer Hampton Fancher and Michael Green return to the world of replicants and manufactured memories in Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner introduced a world rich with possibilities for expansion, but back in the early eighties, cinematic universes (with perhaps the exception of Star Wars) were still in the distant future. Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic was conceived as a standalone feature and it would remain that way until 2017 – two years prior to the date the original film is set.

Not even Scott could have predicted how iconic Blade Runner would become in the decades since its less than favourable reception in 1982, nor how its themes of urban decay, genetic engineering and overpopulation would be even more relevant 35 years later.

“It certainly was prescient in many ways,” notes star Harrison Ford. “I think as technology developed and people began to see some of the issues the film talked about play out in real life, there was even more reason to accept the themes that Blade Runner dealt with.”

When first approached about a sequel to Blade Runner, Alcon Media Group producing partners Andrew A. Kosove and Broderick Johnson were understandably cautious about taking on such an ambitious and risky project, given the reverence surrounding the original film.

Blade Runner 2049

It was Bud Yorkin, who had been part of the producing team on Blade Runner, along with his wife, Cynthia Sikes Yorkin, that initially brought the idea to Alcon.

“It was a dream of Bud’s for many years to continue the story and I was so happy to support him in that pursuit,” says Sikes Yorkin. “Unfortunately he passed away before he could see the completion of the film, but it was a wonderful gift for him to know it was going to be done.”

Kosove and Johnson met with Ridley Scott, who acknowledged there was more of the Blade Runner story to tell and subsequently approached Hampton Fancher, one of the co-writers of the original film.

“It was serendipity because I had literally finished a short story set in the Blade Runner universe,“ Fancher recalls. “I read Ridley the first paragraph and it was obvious what it was. All he said was, ‘Can you come to London?’ So that’s how it started.”

“What is the nature of a soul… and is it uniquely human?“

Fancher’s treatment for the Blade Runner sequel took the form of a 110-page novella, which writer Michael Green (who had provided the story for Scott’s Alien: Covenant) would turn into a conventional screenplay. Moreover, it was Fancher who first envisioned Ryan Gosling playing the role of the central character, Officer K.

“Hampton and Ridley had formed the story DNA of what a new Blade Runner film might be, and then I had the incredible opportunity to grow out those elements,” says Green. “There are so many fascinating themes that run through the first film; one of them is about quantity of life. Among the themes we wanted to explore in Blade Runner 2049 was quality of life. In both films there are humans and there are replicants, and though in many respects they behave similarly, they have very different origins, as one is born and one is made. Society places a greater inherent value on humans over replicants because someone born is believed to have a soul. But what is the nature of a soul… and is it uniquely human?”

Blade Runner 2049

This is just one of the big questions raised in Blade Runner 2049, whose plot details remained a closely guarded secret to the extent that the ending of the movie was not included in copies of the script used by the actors. Non-disclosure agreements were mandatory for those involved with the production, with heavy penalties for violation. It’s a testament to the production’s tight security that nothing was leaked prior to its October 2017 release date – nor will any plot spoilers be revealed here.

As textured, nuanced and visually mesmerising as Ridley Scott’s original masterpiece, Blade Runner 2049 is a sci-fi sequel to rank alongside Aliens, Terminator 2: Judgement Day and The Empire Strikes Back – a worthy successor to the original that progresses the story and characters in a natural continuation, while delivering something new, exciting and completely unexpected.

Blade Runner 2049 is out on Jan 17

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BEFORE 2049

Blade Runner 2049’s marketing included three short prequel films (included on the Blu-ray and 4K discs) which dramatise key events that occur during the 30-year timeframe between Blade Runner and the sequel.

2036: Nexus Dawn

2036: NEXUS DAWN

Neander Wallace (Jared Leto) presents his new Nexus 9 replicant line to the city’s lawmakers in an attempt to have the prohibition on replicants lifted. Directed by Luke (son of Ridley) Scott.

2048: Nowhere to Run

2048: NOWHERE TO RUN

Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista) comes to the rescue of a mother and her daughter on the mean streets of future LA, exposing his status as a replicant in the process. Also directed by Luke Scott.

Blade Runner Black Out 2022

BLADE RUNNER BLACK OUT 2022

An anime short, directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, revealing the event that led to the downfall of the Tyrell Corporation. With appearances by Blade Runner characters Gaff (voiced by original actor Edward James Olmos) and Bryant.