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Denis Villeneuve Says Bad Box Office Is the Reason ‘Blade Runner 2049’ Was Shut Out of Best Picture Oscar Race

The director also thinks Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch were snubbed for Best Original Score.

Blade Runner 2049” earned five Oscar nominations this year in craft categories such as Best Visual Effects, Best Production Design, and Best Cinematography, but it failed to break out into any of the major races. Filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, who earned an Oscar nomination for Best Director last year thanks to “Arrival,” thinks the movie’s poor box office is the reason why.

“It’s very uncommon for a movie that didn’t do well at the box office in the United States to get a nomination for Best Picture,” Villeneuve told CBC News shortly after the nominations for the 90th Academy Awards were announced January 23.

“Blade Runner 2049” was a box office disaster for Warner Bros. when it opened last October. Despite universal critical acclaim, the sequel couldn’t make it past the $95 million mark at the domestic box office. With just under $260 million worldwide, “2049” is rumored to have cost the studio at least $80 million. The combined production and marketing budget is said to have been well over the $300 million mark.

This year’s Best Picture nominees, including “Lady Bird,” “Get Out,” and “Dunkirk,” have all been financially profitable given each title’s respective budget. Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread” is currently the lowest grosser, but it just expanded into wide release last week and should now benefit from its six nominations.

Villeneuve also told CBC that “2049” deserved recognition in the Best Original Score race. Hans Zimmer composed the score with Benjamin Wallfisch but was nominated for his work on “Dunkirk” and not “2049.”

“I must say I was disappointed,” Villeneuve said about the score snub. “I think what [composers Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch] did for the movie, the score of the movie, was by far one of the best this year.”

Regardless, “2049” walked away with five craft nominations, and for that the director is incredibly thankful for the artists he got to work with. “As a film director I work very closely with those people to bring my vision to the screen, and I work with great artists and I owe them a lot,” he said.

Winners for the 90th Academy Awards will be announced March 4.

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