There are times we deserve to have our faith rewarded. Or more specifically, those of us who observed the doctrines of the Church of Actually Going to the Cinema (in the before times) to Watch Movies Other Than Disney Stuff And Paying For the Things We Said We Want. A church that, statistically, saw its attendance dwindling because we are bad worshippers. Now, it’s not like the Church didn’t fail us, mostly because it was a pain in the ass to attend services where no one would shut up, or they gobbled and rattled buckets full of pop-corn, the seats were filthy and there were barely any services during the weekend for the things we said we wanted to see. Plus, the tithing kept getting higher but they invested jack-all in improving the sound systems or the projectors. That last part is not a metaphor.
But then again, I could’ve caught every single Laika film on the big screens. I could afford it, but I was too lazy to put my money where my weariness towards 3D animation is.
On the other hand, we the believers have made an effort to observe the rituals in other — and mostly legal — ways, and we try to show up for important feasts. Like with Dune last year. Just like the Midterms this year and in 2018, or the elections of 2020, we might not be thrilled with what we got, but the alternative was handing over the theaters to a dark future. Yeah, I know, that metaphor just collapsed into offensive territory.
But in 2017, when Blade Runner 2049 landed with a resounding “over $250 million but not enough to break even” at the box office, it was almost heartbreaking. Once again a flop? Once again, a visual and poetic feast we’re gonna be think-piecing twice a year for decades to come? Perhaps, the real problem is that we film buffs are simply too small a group to make something like Blade Runner 2049 successful, because I assure you, we did show up for this one. We. showed up. for a Great Film.
Well, we are getting our reward. In the form of a streaming series. Because, for better and/or for worse, streamers have so much money and so much data on us that they can afford to give niche crowds content that wouldn’t be profitable elsewhere.
Ridley Scott will apparently remain as executive producer, as he did in 2049, with the project being fast-tracked … at Prime Video. Because of course, there isn’t a single prime Warner Bros. IP that HBO Max won’t pass on. So far, a writer’s room is still being assembled with Silka Luisa hired as showrunner and lead writer. Luisa’s credits include Strange Angel and Elisabeth Moss’ upcoming series Shining Girls.
The announcement comes on the heels of Alcon Entertainment announcing a licensing deal with Striker Entertainment to expand Blade Runner as a proper franchise. And you know what? I’m fine with it. I very much would like a McFarlane’s figurine of a neon-bathed Officer K. I love the fact that they are putting their trust in this IP beyond the immediate box office returns. As the publishing industry has known for centuries, long-sellers are what keep the lights on, and many of those titles were flops in their original print run.
Now, going back to this sequel, it will be set in the year 2099, and will actually be the second adaptation to series. Last year saw the animated series Blade Runner: Black Lotus air on Adult Swim, set in the year 2032. The critical reception was… passable.
I’m optimistic. I love Blade Runner so much I watched anything remotely similar just to get a fix of that high. I even saw Mute … paying attention! The great thing about this universe is that it doesn’t have rabid originalist fans, so you can take the storylines wherever they might lead, rotate the main characters and bring out new ideas because it was built on the theme of what makes a human a human, but also an aesthetic that is coherent with the worldbuilding.
Now, for some unsolicited advice that will very likely not reach the production team: Just keep the same crew from The Expanse and as many cast members as possible. Scott Free and Alcon Ent. already have a working relationship with them, and they knocked it out of the park back when they had a 13-episode schedule to produce on less than $50 million so imagine what they could do with two times that amount. I’ll repeat myself, once again: Cast Cara Gee in Everything. And of course, get Denis Villeneuve to film at least some episodes.
And now, watch this amazing essay by Broey Deschanel on, well, the problematic representation of women of Blade Runner 2049. I have a good feeling they’ll work out these blindspots in this sequel. Some at least.