Warner-based Alcon Entertainment (“Insomnia,” “Traveling Pants,” “The Blind Side,” “The Book of Eli”) just issued a press release that indicates it’s close to a deal to produce prequels and sequels to Ridley Scott’s beloved replicant sci-fi classic “Blade Runner.”
“Blade Runner” came out the same year I began my career as a newspaper film critic (I’m old!), and it’s difficult to remember now how reviled this movie was among the era's critical establishment. Even today, Roger Ebert maintains, "It looks fabulous, it uses special effects to create a new world of its own, but it is thin in its human story."
Siskel & Ebert, critics I continue to regard as the smartest in the business, launch their disparagement at the 2:10 mark:
I loved the movie so much upon its initial release I began to question how fit I was to pursue a career in entertainment journalism. I was genuinely afraid I'd be fired for putting it on my top-ten list for the year.
Pleasure model Pris' encounter with the scientist-toymaker Sebastian haunts through the decades, as does Roy Batty's showdown with his creator. Batty's final gesture toward his cop-tormentor is a comment on the human condition that resonates for me as little else in cinema does.
So it’s weird and wild and crazy that enough confused old movie critics have died or retired for “Blade Runner” to emerge as the cinematic colossus we now know it to be. As this press release below points out, it's now in the National Film Registry and is routinely hailed as one of the finest sci-fi movies ever forged.
Will the prequels and sequels live up to the original? Can they lock down people as accomplished as Ridley Scott and David Peoples and Hampton Fancher?
LOS ANGELES, CA, MARCH 3, 2011—Warner Bros-based financing and production company Alcon Entertainment (“The Blind Side,” “The Book of Eli”) co-founders and co-Chief Executive Officers Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove, in the most significant property acquisition negotiations in the Company’s 13-year history, are in final discussions to secure film, television and ancillary franchise rights to produce prequels and sequels to the iconic 1982 science-fiction thriller “Blade Runner.”
Alcon is negotiating to secure the rights from producer-director Bud Yorkin, who will serve as producer on “Blade Runner” along with Kosove and Johnson. Cynthia Sikes Yorkin will co-produce. Frank Giustra and Tim Gamble, CEO’s of Thunderbird Films, will serve as executive producers. Alcon’s franchise rights would be all-inclusive, but exclude rights to remake the original. The Company, however, may produce projects based on situations introduced in the original film.
The project would be distributed domestically by Warner Bros. International rights are yet to be determined. Johnson and Kosove stated: “We are honored and excited to be in business with Bud Yorkin. This is a major acquisition for our company, and a personal favorite film for both of us. We recognize the responsibility we have to do justice to the memory of the original with any prequel or sequel we produce. We have long-term goals for the franchise, and are exploring multi-platform concepts, not just limiting ourselves to one medium only.”
Among its many distinctions, “Blade Runner” has been singled out as one of the greatest movies of all time by countless polls and media outlets, and overwhelmingly as the greatest science-fiction film of all time by a majority of genre publications.
Released by Warner Bros. almost 30 years ago, "Blade Runner" was adapted by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples from Philip K. Dick's novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" and directed by Ridley Scott following his landmark “Alien.”
The film was nominated for two Academy Awards (Best Visual Effects, and Best Art Direction). “Blade Runner” was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
The film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 1993 and is frequently taught in university courses. In 2007, it was named the 2nd most visually influential film of all time by the Visual Effects Society. Alcon’s COO Scott Parish and head of business affairs David Fierson are negotiating on behalf of the Company.
At the 4:05 mark, Siskel & Ebert still sound strangely lukewarm about the project as they appraise Scott's narration-free 1992 re-edit: