“Blade Runner 2049” may be one of the most critically acclaimed blockbusters of the year, but it’s struggling at the box office and might not even be able to turn a profit when all is said and done. The financial disappointment means a potential sequel is less likely, although original “Blade Runner” screenwriter Hampton Fancher already has the idea for what a follow-up film would look like.
Speaking to The Los Angeles Times, Fancher revealed that his original idea for a “Blade Runner” sequel took shape around 1986 and involved Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard. K, the character played by Ryan Gosling in “2049,” was not a part of the original sequel idea, as the story centered around Deckard’s next job as a blade runner. Fancher called the idea “horrifying” and teases that we might actually get to see it if a sequel gets greenlit.
“The first time Ridley and I ever considered doing a second ‘Blade Runner,’ in 1986 or whatever it was, I came up with an idea about Deckard and his next job — and it’s kind of horrifying what happens in my little fantasy,” Fancher said.
By the time Fancher actually got around to writing an actual treatment, more ideas had developed that closely resemble the story threads of “2049.” The plot point of Deckard’s child opened up the story and brought in the creation of a new blade runner who would investigate the child’s whereabouts.
“It was just the character of K,” he said. “I had written a little ‘Blade Runner’ short story about a new kind of blade runner and I named him Kard, with a K. So there was this character who could be investigating something and that could maybe be a through-line [for the sequel]. There was also a romance with a digital woman. So there were certain ingredients, some flavors.”
But the original treatment had one shocking difference: Deckard dies. The theatrical ending of “2049” finds K completing his mission of reuniting Deckard and his child and then dying on the steps of the research facility, but it was Deckard who died in Fancher’s original conception of the sequel. In an ironic twist, Deckard’s survival in “2049” means Fancher is now thinking about the very first idea for a sequel should there be a third entry.
“Now that Deckard lives, that idea is back in my head,” Fancher says about the original story of Deckard’s next mission. “But I’m not going to tell you what it is.”
Given the movie’s poor box office, only time will tell if we ever get to see Fancher’s original sequel idea on the big screen. Neither he nor co-writer Michael Green set up “2049” to launch additional sequels, though both have leaned into the possibility of continuing Deckard’s narrative or even telling different stories within a “Blade Runner” universe.
“I’ve certainly fantasized about it but I kept it in the box of fantasy until we had this movie well in hand and knew that it landed well,” Green said about more sequels. “At no point during the making of this were people concerned with building out the universe. All the focus was on: ‘Let’s make the best possible movie we can right now and then maybe, maybe dare to dream.’ I’m sure Hampton already has ideas, though.”
Hampton clearly does have ideas, especially since Green changed his ending and left Deckard alive. “Blade Runner 2049” is now playing in theaters nationwide.