Posted on Thursday, March 3rd, 2011 by Russ Fischer
Yesterday a minor uproar erupted when plans were revealed for a production company to buy partial rights to Ridley Scott‘s seminal sci-fi film Blade Runner. Not to remake the movie, but to make another film set in that same world — a prequel or a sequel, perhaps, or something related.
Alcon Entertainment (The Blind Side, The Book of Eli) is the company making a move on Blade Runner, and now the company’s founders are talking about why they want the property, and revealing that they haven’t talked to Ridley Scott about their plans.
The LA Times talked to the producers, who said “we never would want to remake [Blade Runner]” while saying that they could jump off from scenes in the Ridley Scott movie, or use elements of the world seen in the film.
Alcon’s Andrew Kosove said,
The ‘Blade Runner’ lore is kind of irresistible… And the extraordinary pace of technological advancement since the movie came out means that there are a lot of opportunities to do something fresh… The risk is not just getting a movie made but coming up with a story that really justifies coming back one to one of the great science-fiction stories.
In other words, it is pretty much what you assumed — they know there is a potential gold mine here, thanks to the fact that Blade Runner, essentially a dud on original release, has turned into one of the most recognized and imitated films of the ’80s. But there are pitfalls too, so what to do? Maybe set a film in a version of Blade Runner that is much closer to Philip K. Dick‘s source novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, incorporating all the elements the film left out: mood-altering brain stimulus machines, animal husbandry as status symbol, and so forth.
Then there’s another thing to consider: these guys make faith-based films. They’re not making The Passion of the Christ, but they are making films that decidedly play to an audience that embraces Christianity. The Blind Side, The Book of Eli, and their latest, A Joyful Noise, all have that angle. Then again, Alcon Entertainment also partially paid for The Wicker Man remake and One Missed Call, so it isn’t as if it is an exclusively faith-oriented company. (And they do like to shoot stuff in Atlanta, so if this Blade Running thing is going to happen, fingers crossed that it somehow happens partially in my back yard.)
That’s actually an angle I’d like to see explored/exploited in a new Blade Runner-related movie. Faith — a very strange, crazy faith — was a big part of Philip K. Dick’s life, and there are a lot of good stories to be told in a world where the line between real and artificial is very blurry. Science fiction can mesh very well with questions of spirituality and faith, as stories about how we are affected by what we build are pretty much tailor made to explore questions about man’s belief in higher powers.
(Case in point: The Adjustment Bureau, also based in Philip K. Dick’s writing, deals with questions of free will and determination, and works quite well until it gets bogged down in over-explaining the weird mechanics of the Bureau guys.)
I’m not saying this is a good idea — my baseline response remains “leave it alone.” But if it is going to happen then I’m curious about how it will happen, and I hope Alcon doesn’t play it safe. If you’re going to do something as excessive as making a generally unwanted spin-off from a classic film, go all the way with it.
The Alcon guys say they haven’t yet met with Ridley Scott but that they would love for him to direct their Blade Runner movie. Which, after the whole process of making Prometheus, might not be as outlandish a prospect as it sounds. Not that it is likely to happen, but you never know.