blade runner 2049 original cut

The greatest mystery in Blade Runner 2049 may not be whether androids have souls, but whether the movie’s lengthy run time was truly the reason it disappointed at the box office.

Denis Villeneuve‘s ambitious sci-fi spectacle retread many of the cerebral themes that Ridley Scott‘s sci-fi classic Blade Runner did, and then some. In doing so, it neared a three-hour runtime that Scott would come to blame for the audience shunning the film. Villeneuve would somberly ponder that the runtime may be the culprit, but in a new interview, he proudly stands by the length and message of the final theatrical cut. Because, astonishingly, Blade Runner 2049 could have been even longer.

Blade Runner 2049 tackles some truly heady subject matter over the course of 2 hours and 44 minutes, but some of its more abstract themes did feel a little half-baked. That may have been because half of the build-up to themes of human will and hope was left on the cutting room floor.

There were rumors of a four-hour original cut of Blade Runner 2049 in the weeks following the film’s October release, but those rumors never made it past the editing room. And it turns out that the four-hour cut will never leave that room either, Villeneuve said in an interview with ScreenCrush.

[Laughs] …The thing is, it’s true that the first cut was four hours and at one point we were like, “Okay, do we go to the producer and release it in two?” But let’s say the idea of the movie being in two parts didn’t get out of the editing room. [Laughs] No, the best incarnation of the movie is what is in the theater. What was striking is that the four-hour cut was quite strong. But personally I prefer the one that is in the theater because it’s more elegant, I would say. But there are some scenes that were like [makes boosh sound]. Quite strong.

But Villeneuve never felt the pressure from Alcon Entertainment to cut down the run time, instead choosing to cut out nearly half of the movie himself. “I think four hours was too self-indulgent,” Villeneuve said. “And it’s a strange conversation because we’re talking about Blade Runner, so people want to know if there are other kinds of cuts. It’s [that way] in all movies; there’s always a long cut at the beginning. The first cut is always long, and it’s a process and a lot of editing.”

So don’t expect a “director’s cut,” or “final cut,” like Scott released in the decades following 1982’s Blade Runner. Villeneuve’s vision of humanity in the theatrical cut of Blade Runner 2049 is his final one; audiences be damned (but not really, please do see it).

Of course, in ScreenCrush’s great interview with Villeneuve — which you should read all of — the case of the disparity between rave critical reviews and an absent audience was brought up. Villeneuve didn’t passionately point his finger at the runtime like Scott did earlier, though he did humbly wonder that audiences were intimidated by both its length and subject matter. “People are maybe afraid of the film because it’s long and supposed to be a puzzle,” Villeneuve said.

 

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