“Blade Runner 2049” is gearing up for release on October 6, and with it comes 35 years of expectations and anticipation from die-hard fans of Ridley Scott’s iconic original. The film’s marketing has done a solid job at preserving spoilers and selling the movie’s jaw-dropping visuals, so all that’s left is for audiences to show up and be amazed at whatever Denis Villeneuve has in store.
The director has assembled an enviable cast and crew, which combines franchise stalwarts and newcomers alike. If Villeneuve can stay true to the original atmosphere while crafting a unique adventure, he should have no problem making “Blade Runner 2049” just as much of a sci-fi classic for this generation as “Blade Runner” was for the last.
Here’s everything you need to know about the sequel before seeing it.
The Movie is Set 30 Years After the Original
Warner Bros. has managed to keep a majority of the movie’s plot under wraps out of fear of spoilers getting out to the public, but what we know for sure is that “Blade Runner 2049” takes place exactly 30 years after the original. Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard has been missing for three decades, but a new Blade Runner, played by Ryan Gosling, sets off on a mission to find him after discovering a dark secret that could bring an end to humanity.
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Gosling’s character is an LAPD officer named K, and his superior lieutenant is played by Robin Wright. Jared Leto plays the film’s primary villain, a replicant manufacturer named Niander Wallace, and the actor actually went blind for the role during production. The supporting cast includes Mackenzie Davis, David Bautista, and Ana de Armas.
In one of his earliest interviews about the movie, Villeneuve teased that the world will be on the brink of environmental disaster in the film. “The climate has gone berserk — the ocean, the rain, the snow is all toxic,” he said.
The Sequel Has Original ‘Blade Runner’ Blood in Its DNA
“Blade Runner 2049” may have a new star and a new director, but the main trio behind the original are all involved. Ford is returning to the role of Rick Deckard, which means fans will probably get a definitive answer as to whether or not the character is a human or a replicant. Ford reportedly doesn’t factor into “Blade Runner 2049” until the final act.
Ridley Scott isn’t behind the camera for the sequel, but he has been heavily involved in production as a producer. Scott began planning a “Blade Runner” sequel years ago called “Metropolis,” which explored life in off-world colonies and focused on the fate of the Tyrell Corporation. The film never made it past development, but Scott began cracking the code on what would become “Blade Runner 2049” as early as 2011.
Last but not least is Hampton Fancher. The screenwriter co-wrote the original “Blade Runner” with David Peoples and has returned to script the sequel with Michael Green. The latter co-wrote “Logan” and worked with Scott on the script for “Alien: Covenant.” He also developed STARZ’s “American Gods” series alongside Bryan Fuller.
The Franchise is in Safe Hands With Denis Villeneuve
Scott may not be directing, but he found an excellent choice in Denis Villeneuve. The director has become a Hollywood favorite over the last several years with critical and commercial hits “Prisoners,” “Sicario,” and “Arrival,” which earned him his first Oscar nomination for Best Director earlier this year. “Blade Runner 2049” is no doubt Villeneuve’s biggest gig yet, and he’s well aware of what’s at stake.
“I feel [the pressure] every day,” he said earlier this year. “At the same time, I’ve never been that inspired and excited. I love risk…I think the movie we are doing, we will need to find our own identity and territory, and at the same time be faithful and linked to the first project. It’s that equilibrium we are trying to find.”
Villeneuve has been intent on making sure “Blade Runner 2049” does not feel like your typical studio blockbuster. A majority of the sets were manmade and he relied on green screen as little as possible during production. He told Wired the last thing he wanted was the sequel to feel “too Marvel,” so he worked with DP Roger Deakins to create a tangible futuristic look that feels grounded and brutal.
The Third Time is the Charm for Villeneuve and Roger Deakins
Speaking of Roger Deakins, the legendary cinematographer is teaming up with Villeneuve for the third time with “Blade Runner 2049.” The duo worked together on both “Prisoners” and “Sicario,” and each time Deakins ended up with an Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography. Will the third time be the charm and finally win Deakins the gold? He’s been nominated 13 times already, and the “Blade Runner 2049” trailers suggest he’ll be back as a contender.
“I don’t know how people will react to the movie overall, [but] I can say, as a filmmaker, [Roger] did one of his best works,” Villeneuve told IndieWire at Comic-Con. “He’s done a lot of strong movies, but what he did in this movie, for me, it’s quite special…he had more space to experiment than usual, where you have to be bound to reality.”
The Movie Was Always Intended to Be Rated R
The MPAA has given “Blade Runner 2049” an R rating for “violence, some sexuality, nudity, and language.” The movie is hoping to follow in the footsteps of “Logan” and “It” this year, two R-rated blockbusters that earned over $200 million at the domestic box office. The sequel was always intended to be rated R, which gave Villeneuve the freedom he needed to create his brutal futuristic world.
“My producers are finding it fun to remind me that it will be one of the most expensive R-rated independent feature films ever made,” Villeneuve said to ScreenCrush almost a year ago.
The director is well accustomed to the R-rating. “Arrival” is his only Hollywood movie to earn a PG-13 rating, and his efforts like “Prisoners” and “Sicario” definitely earned their R thanks to their shocking violence.
Hans Zimmer Has Replaced Jóhann Jóhannsson As Film Composer
It’s been a tough year for Jóhann Jóhannsson. Not only was his original score for “mother!” scrapped by Darren Aronofsky, but his work on “Blade Runner 2049” has been cut out in favor of a new original score by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch.
Jóhannsson is legally not allowed to talk about why he is no longer involved with “Blade Runner 2049,” but his departure is a bit of shock given how well he has worked with Villeneuve in the past. The two worked together on “Prisoners,” “Sicario,” and “Arrival,” the second of which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Original Score. It was originally rumored that Jóhannsson’s theme music would remain in the movie, but earlier this month his work got dropped completely from the movie. Zimmer is now the main composer, and he’s a Warner Bros. favorite thanks to his acclaimed work on Christopher Nolan films.
It’s the Longest Blockbuster Since ‘Interstellar’
Warner Bros. has confirmed that “Blade Runner 2049” clocks in a 163 minutes, which includes 11 minutes worth of credits. The average runtime for studio blockbusters has been way past the two-hour mark for some time now, but 163 minutes is still a wallop of a runtime.
The last studio blockbuster to run this long or longer was Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” back in fall 2014 at 169 minutes. Just for some perspective, Marvel’s longest feature to date is “Captain America: Civil War” and it only runs 147 minutes. The original “Blade Runner” theatrical cut ran 117 minutes. The only other major releases to run longer in recent years were Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-nominated “The Wolf of Wall Street” (179 minutes) and Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” (168 minutes). “Blade Runner 2049” will clock in longer than “The Revenant” (156 minutes) and “Silence” (161 minutes) as well.