Blade Runner (franchise)

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Blade Runner
Blade Runner logo.jpg
The current logo of the franchise.
Created by Philip K. Dick
Ridley Scott
David Peoples
Hampton Fancher
Original work Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Print publications
Novel(s)
Comics
Films and television
Film(s)
Short film(s)
Games
Video game(s)
Audio
Soundtrack(s)

Blade Runner is an American neo-noir science fiction media franchise originating from the 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, about the character of Rick Deckard. The book has been adapted into several media, including films, comics, a stage play, and a radio serial. The first film adaptation was Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott in 1982. Although the film initially underperformed at the American box office, it became a cult classic, and has had a significant influence on science fiction. A novelization and a comic adaptation of the film were released in the same year. From 1995 to 2000, three novels serving as sequels to both Blade Runner and the original novel were written by K. W. Jeter, a friend of Dick's. A film sequel to Blade Runner, Blade Runner 2049, was released in 2017. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Blade Runner in 2012, a short film was released, and in the lead up to the release of Blade Runner 2049, several more short films detailing events that occurred between 2019 and 2049 were released.

Development[edit]

A photograph of a building interior showing stairs climbing up five storeys to the final floor where we can see the glass roof
The Bradbury Building in Los Angeles was a filming location.

Interest in adapting Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? developed shortly after its 1968 publication. Director Martin Scorsese was interested in filming the novel, but never optioned it.[1] Producer Herb Jaffe optioned it in the early 1970s, but Dick was unimpressed with the screenplay written by Herb's son Robert: "Jaffe's screenplay was so terribly done ... Robert flew down to Santa Ana to speak with me about the project. And the first thing I said to him when he got off the plane was, 'Shall I beat you up here at the airport, or shall I beat you up back at my apartment?'"[2]

The screenplay by Hampton Fancher was optioned in 1977.[3] Producer Michael Deeley became interested in Fancher's draft and convinced director Ridley Scott to film it. Scott had previously declined the project, but after leaving the slow production of Dune, wanted a faster-paced project to take his mind off his older brother's recent death.[4] He joined the project on February 21, 1980, and managed to push up the promised Filmways financing from US$13 million to $15 million. Fancher's script focused more on environmental issues and less on issues of humanity and religion, which are prominent in the novel and Scott wanted changes. Fancher found a cinema treatment by William S. Burroughs for Alan E. Nourse's novel The Bladerunner (1974), titled Blade Runner (a movie).[nb 1] Scott liked the name, so Deeley obtained the rights to the titles. Eventually he hired David Peoples to rewrite the script and Fancher left the job over the issue on December 21, 1980, although he later returned to contribute additional rewrites.[5]

Having invested over $2.5 million in pre-production,[6] as the date of commencement of principal photography neared, Filmways withdrew financial backing. In ten days Deeley had secured $21.5 million in financing through a three-way deal between The Ladd Company (through Warner Bros.), the Hong Kong-based producer Sir Run Run Shaw and Tandem Productions.[7]

Philip K. Dick became concerned that no one had informed him about the film's production, which added to his distrust of Hollywood.[8] After Dick criticized an early version of Hampton Fancher's script in an article written for the Los Angeles Select TV Guide, the studio sent Dick the David Peoples rewrite.[9] Although Dick died shortly before the film's release, he was pleased with the rewritten script and with a 20-minute special effects test reel that was screened for him when he was invited to the studio. Despite his well-known skepticism of Hollywood in principle, Dick enthused to Ridley Scott that the world created for the film looked exactly as he had imagined it.[10] He said, "I saw a segment of Douglas Trumbull's special effects for Blade Runner on the KNBC-TV news. I recognized it immediately. It was my own interior world. They caught it perfectly." He also approved of the film's script, saying, "After I finished reading the screenplay, I got the novel out and looked through it. The two reinforce each other, so that someone who started with the novel would enjoy the movie and someone who started with the movie would enjoy the novel."[11] The motion picture was dedicated to Dick.[12] Principal photography of Blade Runner began on March 9, 1981, and ended four months later.[13]

In 1992, Ford revealed, "Blade Runner is not one of my favorite films. I tangled with Ridley."[14] Apart from friction with the director, Ford also disliked the voiceovers: "When we started shooting it had been tacitly agreed that the version of the film that we had agreed upon was the version without voiceover narration. It was a f**king [sic] nightmare. I thought that the film had worked without the narration. But now I was stuck re-creating that narration. And I was obliged to do the voiceovers for people that did not represent the director's interests."[15] "I went kicking and screaming to the studio to record it."[16] The narration monologues were written by an uncredited Roland Kibbee.[17]

In 2006, Scott was asked "Who's the biggest pain in the arse you've ever worked with?", he replied: "It's got to be Harrison ... he'll forgive me because now I get on with him. Now he's become charming. But he knows a lot, that's the problem. When we worked together it was my first film up and I was the new kid on the block. But we made a good movie."[18] Ford said of Scott in 2000: "I admire his work. We had a bad patch there, and I'm over it."[19] In 2006 Ford reflected on the production of the film saying: "What I remember more than anything else when I see Blade Runner is not the 50 nights of shooting in the rain, but the voiceover ... I was still obliged to work for these clowns that came in writing one bad voiceover after another."[20] Ridley Scott confirmed in the summer 2007 issue of Total Film that Harrison Ford contributed to the Blade Runner Special Edition DVD, and had already recorded his interviews. "Harrison's fully on board", said Scott.[21]

The Bradbury Building in downtown Los Angeles served as a filming location, and a Warner Bros. backlot housed the LA 2019 streets. Other locations included the Ennis-Brown House and the 2nd Street Tunnel. Test screenings resulted in several changes including adding a voice-over, a happy ending and the removal of a Holden hospital scene. The relationship between the filmmakers and the investors was difficult, which culminated in Deeley and Scott being fired but still working on the film.[22] Crew members created T-shirts during filming saying, "Yes Guv'nor, My Ass" that mocked Scott's unfavorable comparison of U.S. and British crews; Scott responded with a T-shirt of his own, "Xenophobia Sucks" making the incident known as the T-shirt war.[23][24]

In June 2009, The New York Times reported that Scott and his brother, director Tony Scott, were working on a series of 5–10 minute shorts, Purefold, inspired by Blade Runner and aimed first at the web and then perhaps television. Due to rights problems, the series was not to be linked too closely to the characters or events of the 1982 film.[25] On February 7, 2010, it was announced that production on Purefold had ceased, due to funding problems.

On March 3, 2011, it was reported that Alcon Entertainment, a production company financed by Warner Bros., was "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."[26] It was also reported that month that Christopher Nolan was desired as director.[27]

On August 18, 2011, it was announced that Ridley Scott would direct and produce a new Blade Runner film, although work would not begin until at least 2013. Producer Andrew A. Kosove suggested that Harrison Ford, who had starred in the original film, was unlikely to be involved.[28][29] Scott said that the film was "liable to be a sequel" but without the previous cast, and that he was close to finding a writer who "might be able to help [him] deliver".[30] On February 6, 2012, Kosove stated: "It is absolutely, patently false that there has been any discussion about Harrison Ford being in Blade Runner. To be clear, what we are trying to do with Ridley now is go through the painstaking process of trying to break the back of the story ... The casting of the movie could not be further from our minds at this moment."[31] When Scott was asked about the possibility of a sequel in October 2012, he said, "It's not a rumor—it's happening. With Harrison Ford? I don't know yet. Is he too old? Well, he was a Nexus-6 so we don't know how long he can live. And that's all I'm going to say at this stage."[32]

Scott said in November 2014 that he would not direct the film and would instead produce; that filming would begin in late 2014 or 2015, and that Ford's character would only appear in "the third act" of the sequel.[33] On February 26, 2015, the sequel was confirmed, with Denis Villeneuve as its director. Ford was confirmed to be returning as Deckard; so too Hampton Fancher, one of the two writers of the original film. The film was expected to enter production in mid-2016.[34]

Films[edit]

Role Film
Blade Runner
(1982)
Blade Runner 2049
(2017)
Director(s) Ridley Scott Denis Villeneuve
Screenwriter(s) Hampton Fancher
David Peoples Michael Green
Producer(s) Michael Deeley Andrew A. Kosove, Broderick Johnson,
Bud Yorkin and Cynthia Yorkin
Composer(s) Vangelis Hans Zimmer
Benjamin Wallfisch
Cinematography Jordan Cronenweth Roger Deakins
Editor(s) Terry Rawlings
Marsha Nakashima
Joe Walker
Production
companies
The Ladd Company
Shaw Brothers
Alcon Entertainment, Columbia Pictures,
Thunderbird Entertainment, Scott Free Productions
Distributor Warner Bros. Warner Bros.
Sony Pictures
U.S. release date June 25, 1982 October 6, 2017
Duration 117 minutes 163 minutes

Blade Runner (1982)[edit]

Blade Runner, the first film in the franchise, is a 1982 neo-noir science fiction film, serving as a loose adaptation of the Philip K. Dick's 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?.[35][36] The film is set in a dystopian Los Angeles of 2019, in which genetically bioengineered replicants, which are visually indistinguishable from adult humans, are manufactured by the Tyrell Corporation to work on off-world colonies. Those that escape and return to Earth are hunted down and "retired" by special police operatives known as "blade runners". The story focuses on burnt-out expert blade runner Rick Deckard, who reluctantly agrees to take on one last assignment to hunt down a group of recently escaped replicants led by Roy Batty. During his investigations, Deckard meets Rachael, an advanced experimental replicant who causes him to question his attitude towards replicants and what it means to be human. Starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, and Edward James Olmos, it was released in the United States on June 25, 1982. It underperformed in North American theaters, but has since become a cult film.[37] The year following its release, the film won the prestigious Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. Hailed for its production design, depicting a "retrofitted" future,[38] it remains a leading example of neo-noir cinema.[39] The film's soundtrack, composed by Vangelis, was critically acclaimed and nominated in 1983 for a BAFTA and Golden Globe as best original score. In 1993, the movie was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". Blade Runner is now regarded by many critics as one of the all-time best science fiction films.

Blade Runner 2049 (2017)[edit]

On April 16, 2015, Ryan Gosling entered negotiations for a role in a Blade Runner sequel.[40] Gosling confirmed his casting in November 2015, citing the involvement of Villeneuve and Deakins as factors for his decision.[41] On May 20, Roger Deakins was hired as director of photography.[42] Principal photography was set to begin in July, with Warner Bros. distributing the film domestically and Sony Pictures Entertainment handling international release.[43] An official release date of January 12, 2018, was announced on February 18, 2016.[44] When interviewed at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, Villeneuve disclosed that the plot would include the ambiguity of whether or not Deckard is a human or a replicant.[45] On March 31, 2016, Robin Wright entered final negotiations for a role in the film,[46] and on April 2, Dave Bautista posted a picture of himself with an origami unicorn, hinting at a role in the film.[47] Bautista and Wright were confirmed to be joining the cast on April 4, and a filming start date of July was established.[48] In late April 2016, the film's release date was moved up to October 6, 2017,[49] as well as Ana de Armas and Sylvia Hoeks being added to the cast.[50][51] Carla Juri was cast in May 2016.[52] In June, Mackenzie Davis and Barkhad Abdi were cast,[53][54] with David Dastmalchian, Hiam Abbass and Lennie James joining in July.[55][56] Jared Leto was added to the cast in August.[57] In March 2017, Edward James Olmos confirmed he was in the film in a sequence playing original character Gaff.[58] In September 2015, Warner Bros. trademarked the name Blade Runner: Androids Dream, prompting speculation that this was the film's title;[59] this was revealed to have been an early title of the film by in October 2017.[60] However, after principal photography began in July 2016 and, as of September 2016, was filming in Budapest, Hungary,[61] Warner Bros. announced the title of the film to be Blade Runner 2049 in October 2016.[62] Shooting ended in November 2016 in Hungary,[63] with the film set for release on October 6, 2017.

Short films[edit]

2036: Nexus Dawn (2017)[edit]

On August 29, 2017, Denis Villeneuve, director of Blade Runner 2049, announced that he had organized for three filmmakers to direct several short films exploring incidents that occurred between the events of Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049. The first short film released in the lead up to Blade Runner 2049, 2036: Nexus Dawn, is directed by Luke Scott, who had previously developed short films connecting the events of Ridley Scott films Prometheus and Alien: Covenant. The film stars Jared Leto as Niander Wallace and Benedict Wong as Lawmaker, following him as he presents a new Nexus-9 replicant to the lawmakers in an attempt to have a prohibition on replicants lifted.[64][65]

2048: Nowhere to Run (2017)[edit]

A second film, 2048: Nowhere to Run, also directed by Scott, follows Nexus-8 replicant Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista) as he protects a mother and daughter from thugs.[66]

Blade Runner Black Out 2022 (2017)[edit]

On September 26, 2017, the third short film, Blade Runner Black Out 2022, was released on Crunchyroll.[67] A 15-minute long anime and prequel to 2036: Nexus Dawn and 2048: Nowhere to Run, directed by Shinichirō Watanabe,[68] The film is primarily set in 2022, following an EMP detonation that has caused a global blackout, which has had massive, destructive implications all over the world.[69] During a preview of the film, Watanabe said that the original film was "definitely the movie that influenced me the most as an anime director".[70] Edward James Olmos and Dave Bautista respectively reprise their roles as Gaff and Sapper Morton.[71]

Future[edit]

Potential Blade Runner 2049 sequels[edit]

During an interview with Yahoo! during a promotional tour for the 2015 film The Martian, Ridley Scott expressed interest in making additional films.[72] In October 2017, Villeneuve said that he expected a third film would be made if 2049 was successful. Writer of both films Hampton Fancher also revealed that he was considering reviving an old story idea involving Deckard travelling to another country, and Ford said that he would be open to returning if he liked the script.[73] In January 2018, Scott stated that he had "another [story] ready to evolve and be developed, [that] there is certainly one to be done for sure", referring to a third Blade Runner film.[74]

Canceled projects[edit]

Purefold[edit]

In June 2009, The New York Times reported that Scott and his brother, director Tony Scott, were working on a series of 5–10 minute shorts, Purefold, inspired by Blade Runner and aimed first at the web and then perhaps television. Due to rights problems, the series was not to be linked too closely to the characters or events of the 1982 film.[25] On February 7, 2010, it was announced that production on Purefold had ceased, due to funding problems.

Reception[edit]

Box office performance[edit]

Film Release date Box office gross Box office ranking Budget Ref
North America Other territories Worldwide All time US and Canada All time worldwide
Blade Runner June 25, 1982 $32,868,943 Undisclosed $32,868,943 #207 $28 million [75]
Blade Runner 2049 October 6, 2017 $92,054,159 $167,185,499 $259,239,658 #757 #511 $150–180 million [76]
Total $124,254,197 $167,185,499 $292,108,601 $178–212 million [77]
List indicator(s)
  • (A) indicates the adjusted totals based on current ticket prices (calculated by Box Office Mojo).

Critical and public response[edit]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
Blade Runner 90% (106 reviews)[78] 89 (11 reviews)[79]
Blade Runner 2049 87% (334 reviews)[80] 81 (53 reviews)[81]
Average 90% 85

Music[edit]

The Blade Runner soundtrack by Vangelis is a dark melodic combination of classic composition and futuristic synthesizers which mirrors the film-noir retro-future envisioned by Ridley Scott. Vangelis, fresh from his Academy Award-winning score for Chariots of Fire,[82] composed and performed the music on his synthesizers.[83] He also made use of various chimes and the vocals of collaborator Demis Roussos.[84] Another memorable sound is the haunting tenor sax solo "Love Theme" by British saxophonist Dick Morrissey, who performed on many of Vangelis's albums. Ridley Scott also used "Memories of Green" from the Vangelis album See You Later, an orchestral version of which Scott would later use in his film Someone to Watch Over Me.[85]

Along with Vangelis' compositions and ambient textures, the film's soundscape also features a track by the Japanese ensemble Nipponia – "Ogi No Mato" or "The Folding Fan as a Target" from the Nonesuch Records release Traditional Vocal and Instrumental Music – and a track by harpist Gail Laughton from "Harps of the Ancient Temples" on Laurel Records.[86]

Despite being well received by fans and critically acclaimed and nominated in 1983 for a BAFTA and Golden Globe for Best Original Score, and the promise of a soundtrack album from Polydor Records in the end titles of the film, the release of the official soundtrack recording was delayed for over a decade. There are two official releases of the music from Blade Runner. In light of the lack of a release of an album, the New American Orchestra recorded an orchestral adaptation in 1982 which bore little resemblance to the original. Some of the film tracks would, in 1989, surface on the compilation Vangelis: Themes, but not until the 1992 release of the Director's Cut version would a substantial amount of the film's score see commercial release.[84]

These delays and poor reproductions led to the production of many bootleg recordings over the years. A bootleg tape surfaced in 1982 at science fiction conventions and became popular given the delay of an official release of the original recordings, and in 1993, Off World Music, Ltd created a bootleg CD that would prove more comprehensive than Vangelis' official CD in 1994.[84] A set with three CDs of Blade Runner-related Vangelis music was released in 2007. Titled Blade Runner Trilogy, the first disc contains the same tracks as the 1994 official soundtrack release, the second features previously unreleased music from the film, and the third disc is all newly composed music from Vangelis, inspired by, and in the spirit of the film.[87]

Jóhann Jóhannsson, who had worked with Villeneuve on Prisoners, Sicario, and Arrival, was initially announced as composer for Blade Runner 2049.[88] However, Villeneuve and Jóhannsson decided to end the collaboration because Villeneuve felt the film "needed something different, and I needed to go back to something closer to Vangelis's soundtrack".[89] New composers Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch joined in July 2017. In September, Jóhannsson's agent confirmed that he was no longer involved and that he was contractually forbidden from commenting on the situation.[90]

According to Epic Records, Zimmer and Wallfisch sought to continue the legacy of the original Blade Runner score by incorporating the Yamaha CS-80 synthesizer. Zimmer has said of the soundtrack: "First of all, I realized that Denis [Villeneuve] is a director who has a vision; he has a voice. Remember, I've done a lot of movies with Ridley Scott. So, it was important that this was an autonomous piece of work. Let's just be honest. Ridley is a hard act to follow—as is Vangelis. While Ben [Wallfisch] was four-years-old, I had actually experienced all of this. We watched and literally, as we stopped watching, we decided on the palette. We decided this wasn't going to be an orchestral thing. The story spoke to us."[91]

The Blade Runner 2049 soundtrack was released on October 5, 2017 and was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Film Music at the 71st British Academy Film Awards.[92]

Other media[edit]

Books[edit]

Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner[edit]

Before filming of Blade Runner began, Cinefantastique magazine commissioned Paul M. Sammon to write an article about Blade Runner's production. This article became the book Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner.[93] The book chronicles Blade Runner's evolution, focusing on film-set politics, especially the British director's experiences with his first American film crew; of which producer Alan Ladd, Jr. has said, "Harrison wouldn't speak to Ridley and Ridley wouldn't speak to Harrison. By the end of the shoot Ford was 'ready to kill Ridley', said one colleague. He really would have taken him on if he hadn't been talked out of it."[94] Future Noir has short cast biographies and quotations about their experiences, and photographs of the film's production and preliminary sketches. A second edition of Future Noir was published in 2007.[95] To promote the then-upcoming Blade Runner 2049, Future Noir Revised & Updated Edition: The Making of Blade Runner was re-released on September 13, 2017.[96]

Blade Runner: The Inside Story[edit]

Blade Runner: The Inside Story by Don Shay.

The Art and Soul of Blade Runner 2049[edit]

A behind-the-scenes guide to the film by Tanya Lapointe.[97][98]

Academia[edit]

BFI Modern Classics: Blade Runner

BFI Modern Classics: Blade Runner by Scott Bukatman.

Blade Runner: New York Film Notes

Blade Runner: New York Film Notes by Nick Lacey.

Retrofitting Blade Runner: Issues in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner

Retrofitting Blade Runner: Issues in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner by Judith B. Kerman.

Blade Runner: Cultographies

Blade Runner: Cultographies by Matt Hills

The Blade Runner Experience: The Legacy of a Science-Fiction Classic

The Blade Runner Experience: The Legacy of a Science-Fiction Classic, edited by Will Brooker.

Film Architecture: From Metropolis to Blade Runner

Film Architecture: From Metropolis to Blade Runner by Dietrich Neumann.

Autobiographies[edit]

All Those Moments: Stories of Heroes, Villains, Replicants, and Blade Runners

All Those Moments: Stories of Heroes, Villains, Replicants, and Blade Runners by Rutger Hauer.

Blade Runners, Deer Hunters, and Blowing the Bloody Doors Off: My Life in Cult Movies

All Those Moments: Stories of Heroes, Villains, Replicants, and Blade Runners by Michael Deeley, co-written with Matthew Field.

Novels[edit]

Blade Runner: A Story of the Future[edit]

Philip K. Dick refused a $400,000 offer to write a Blade Runner novelization, saying: "[I was] told the cheapo novelization would have to appeal to the twelve-year-old audience" and it "would have probably been disastrous to me artistically". He added, "That insistence on my part of bringing out the original novel and not doing the novelization – they were just furious. They finally recognized that there was a legitimate reason for reissuing the novel, even though it cost them money. It was a victory not just of contractual obligations but of theoretical principles."[11] Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was eventually reprinted as a tie-in, with the film poster as a cover and the original title in parentheses below the Blade Runner title.[99] Eventually, a novelization of the movie entitled Blade Runner: A Story of the Future, written by Les Martin, was released in 1982.[100]

Blade Runner 2: The Edge of Human[edit]

In 1994, K. W. Jeter, a personal friend of Philip K. Dick, began developing a series of Blade Runner novels that would serve as a continuation of both the film Blade Runner, and the novel upon which it was based, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. The first of these novels, Blade Runner 2: The Edge of Human, was published on October 1, 1995. The novel was set several months after the events of Blade Runner, following Deckard living in an isolated shack outside of Los Angeles, with Rachael with him in a Tyrell transport container, intended to slow down the replicant aging process. Deckard is called in by the human template of Rachael, Sarah Tyrell, to hunt down a missing replicant in exchange for technology allowing Rachael to live. Meanwhile, Roy Batty, the human template for the replicant of the same name, hires Dave Holden, a blade runner previously attacked by Leon, to help him hunt down the man that he believes to be the sixth replicant – Deckard.

Blade Runner 3: Replicant Night[edit]

In 1996, K. W. Jeter published science fiction novel Blade Runner 3: Replicant Night, the sequel to Blade Runner 2: The Edge of Human. The novel follows Rick Deckard, now living on Mars, as he is acting as a consultant to a film crew filming the story of his days as a blade runner. He finds himself drawn into a mission on behalf of the replicants he was once assigned to kill. Meanwhile, the mystery surrounding the beginnings of the Tyrell Corporation is being dragged out into the light.

Blade Runner 4: Eye and Talon[edit]

Blade Runner 4: Eye and Talon, also known as Blade Runner 4: Beyond Orion, is the third novel written by K. W. Jeter that continues the storyline started in the 1982 Blade Runner film. The novel was published in 2000. The story takes place concurrently with the events of Blade Runner 3: Replicant Night, following Iris, a Blade Runner who has been sent on an assignment to find Eldon Tyrell's "real owl", which appears to have special significance to the Tyrell Corporation and other organizations.

Video games[edit]

Year Title System Developer Publisher
1985 Blade Runner Shoot 'em up CRL Group PLC Microsoft Windows
1997 Blade Runner Point-and-click adventure game Westwood Studios Virgin Interactive
Microsoft Windows
2018 Blade Runner: Revelations VR game Google Daydream

There are three video games based on Blade Runner: one from 1985 for Commodore 64, Sinclair ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC by CRL Group PLC based on the music by Vangelis (due to licensing issues), another action adventure PC game from 1997 by Westwood Studios, and a VR game from 2018 by Daydream. Both the 1997 and 2018 video games feature new characters and branching storylines based on the Blade Runner world. Eldon Tyrell, Gaff, Leon, Rachael, Chew, and J. F. Sebastian appear in the 1997 video game, their voice files are recorded by the original actors, with the exception of Gaff, who is replaced by Victor Gardell.[101] The player assumes the role of McCoy, another replicant-hunter working at the same time as Deckard.[102][103][101] Gaff and Dave Holden both appear in the 2018 game, voiced respectively by Kirk Thornton and Steve Prince, while Carolyn Hennesy voices Lilith Tyrell, niece of Eldon Tyrell; Lilith previously appeared in Blade Runner in photographic form, actress unaccredited.[citation needed]

The PC game and VR game feature a non-linear plot, non-player characters that each ran in their own independent AI, and an unusual pseudo-3D engine (which eschewed polygonal solids in favor of voxel elements) that did not require the use of a 3D accelerator card to play the game.[104]

Documentaries[edit]

The film has been the subject of a number of documentaries.

Blade Runner (1982, 16 minutes)
Co-directed by Muffet Kaufman and Jeffrey B. Walker. Shot and screen in 16mm, featured no narrator, was filmed in 1981 while Blade Runner was still in production and featured short "behind-the-scenes" segments showing sets being built and sequences being shot, as well as interviews with Ridley Scott and Harrison Ford.[105]
On the Edge of Blade Runner (2000, 55 minutes)
Directed by Andrew Abbott and hosted/written by Mark Kermode. Interviews with production staff, including Ridley Scott, give details of the creative process and the turmoil during preproduction. Insights into Philip K. Dick and the origins of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? are provided by Paul M. Sammon and Hampton Fancher.[22]
Future Shocks (2003, 27 minutes)
A documentary by TVOntario.[106] It includes interviews with executive producer Bud Yorkin, Syd Mead, and the cast, and commentary by science fiction author Robert J. Sawyer and from film critics.
Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner (2007, 213 minutes)
A documentary directed and produced by Charles de Lauzirika for The Final Cut version of the film. Its source material comprises more than 80 interviews, including extensive conversations with Ford, Young, and Scott.[107] The documentary is presented in eight chapters, with each of the first seven covering a portion of the filmmaking process. The final chapter examines Blade Runner's controversial legacy.[108]
All Our Variant Futures: From Workprint to Final Cut (2007, 29 minutes)
Produced by Paul Prischman, appears on the Blade Runner Ultimate Collector's Edition and provides an overview of the film's multiple versions and their origins, as well as detailing the seven-year-long restoration, enhancement and remastering process behind The Final Cut.[109]

Comics[edit]

A Marvel Comics Super Special: Blade Runner[edit]

Archie Goodwin scripted the comic book adaptation of Blade Runner, entitled A Marvel Super Special: Blade Runner, published in September 1982[110] as the twenty-second issue of the Marvel Comics Super Special series of titles which, by the year 1982, only printed adaptations of films Marvel had obtained the rights to. It was later reprinted as a two-part miniseries, without the feature content contained in the special. In some printings, several pages of the comic were published out of order. Other printing set these pages in the correct order. In the UK it was reprinted as the Blade Runner Annual published by Grandreams. Again, the feature content of the original special was not reprinted.[111] The trade paperback was published in black and white and contains images form the film, it is one of the rarest Marvel Comics trades ever.[112]

The book was poorly received upon its initial release, it was ridiculed for what the critics perceived as bad writing and misquoted lines of dialogue from the film.[113][114]

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?[edit]

In 2009, BOOM! Studios published Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, a 24 issue comic book limited series and direct adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novel by the same name. The series was drawn by Tony Parker, and was nominated for an Eisner Award in the category Best New Series. The characters in the adaptation were drawn in similar styles to the versions of the characters as presented in the original 1982 film.[115]

Dust to Dust[edit]

In 2010, BOOM! Studios published Dust to Dust, an 8-issue comic book limited series serving as a prequel to the events of both Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968), Blade Runner (1982) and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (2010).[116][117] The series was written by Chris Roberson and drawn by Robert Adler.[118][119] detailing the days after World War Terminus. The series was marketed with a sneak peek of an eight-page digital preview which was released on iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.[120]

Universe[edit]

Replicants[edit]

"Electric sheep. But only sometimes."

Siri — Response to any dream-related question.
Included by Apple Inc. as a tribute to replicants and the concept of AI as a whole.[121]

A replicant is a fictional bioengineered or biorobotic android in the Blade Runner franchise. Virtually identical to adult humans, replicants typically have superior strength, agility, and variable intelligence depending on the model. Because of their similarity to humans, a replicant can only be detected by means of the fictional Voight-Kampff test in which emotional responses are provoked; replicants' responses differ from humans' responses. Nexus 6 replicants also have a safety mechanism, namely a four-year lifespan, to prevent them from developing empathic cognition and therefore immunity to a Voight-Kampff machine. Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the inspiration for Blade Runner, used the term android (or "andy") rather than "replicant"; Blade Runner director Ridley Scott requested a new, separate term that did not have preconceptions from David Peoples. As Peoples was rewriting the film's screenplay he consulted his daughter, who was then involved in biochemistry and microbiology, who suggested the term "replicating", the biological process of a cell making a copy of itself. From that, either Peoples or his daughter (each would recall later it was the other) coined the term replicant, which was inserted into Hampton Fancher's screenplay.[122]

Voight-Kampff machine[edit]

A very advanced form of lie detector that measures contractions of the iris muscle and the presence of invisible airborne particles emitted from the body. The bellows were designed for the latter function and give the machine the menacing air of a sinister insect. The VK is used primarily by Blade Runners to determine if a suspect is truly human by measuring the degree of his empathic response through carefully worded questions and statements.

— Description from the original 1982 Blade Runner press kit.

The Voight-Kampff machine is a fictional interrogation tool, originating in the 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. The Voight-Kampff is a polygraph-like machine used by blade runners to determine whether or not an individual is a replicant. It measures bodily functions such as blush response, respiration, heart rate and eye movement in response to questions dealing with empathy.[123] In the film two replicants take the test, Leon and Rachael, and Deckard tells Tyrell that it usually takes 20 to 30 cross-referenced questions to distinguish a replicant; in contrast with the book, where it is stated it only takes "six or seven" questions to make a determination. In Blade Runner, it takes Deckard more than one hundred questions to determine that Rachael is a replicant.

Spinner[edit]

Spinner is a nickname given for the type of flying car featured throughout the Blade Runner universe; they are seen in Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049. They can drive on the ground as a normal car, take off vertically, cruise and hover. Spinners use an unspecified form of jet propulsion, similar to Vertical Take-Off and Landing aircraft. In Blade Runner, they are used extensively by the LAPD to survey the general population, as well as by wealthy entrepreneurs. The Spinner was designed by Syd Mead. The Spinner has been replicated in films such as Back to the Future Part II, The Fifth Element and the Star Wars prequel trilogy.

Cast and characters[edit]

List indicator(s)
  • This table shows the characters and the actors who have portrayed them throughout the franchise.
  • A dark grey cell indicates the character was not in the film, or that the character's presence in the film has not yet been announced.
Characters Films Video games Short films
Blade Runner Blade Runner 2049 Blade Runner Blade Runner:
Revelations
What Might Have Been: Snake Dance 2036: Nexus Dawn 2048: Nowhere to Run Blade Runner Black Out 2022
1982 2017 1997 2018 2012 2017
Recurring characters
Rick Deckard
ID: B-263-54
Harrison Ford Silent role
Gaff Edward James Olmos Victor Gardell Kirk Thornton Edward James Olmos
Rachael Sean Young Sean Young[124]
Loren Peta
(body-double)
Sean Young
Dr. Eldon Tyrell Joe Turkel Joe Turkel
Leon Kowalski
NEXUS-6 N6MAC41717
Brion James Brion James
Hannibal Chew James Hong James Hong
J. F. Sebastian William Sanderson William Sanderson
Howie Lee
Sushi Master
Robert Okazaki Toru Nagai
Dave Holden Morgan Paull Silent role Steve Prince Silent role
Harry Bryant M. Emmet Walsh
Zhora Salome
NEXUS-6 N6FAB61216
Joanna Cassidy Joanna Cassidy
Lilith Tyrell Silent role Carolyn Hennesy
Niander Wallace Jared Leto Jared Leto
Sapper Morton Dave Bautista Dave Bautista
Iggy Cygnus Joven Jackson Joven Jackson
Los Angeles Police Department
Officer "Joe" K Ryan Gosling
Lt. Joshi Robin Wright
Coco David Dastmalchian
Nandez Wood Harris
Ray McCoy Mark Benninghofen
Crystal Steele Lisa Edelstein
Lt. Edison Guzza Jeff Garlin
Replicants
Roy Batty
NEXUS-6 N6MAA10816
Rutger Hauer
Pris Stratton
NEXUS-6 N6FAB21416
Daryl Hannah
Luv Sylvia Hoeks
Mariette Mackenzie Davis
Freysa Hiam Abbass
Rachael Clone Sean Young[124]
Loren Peta
(body-double)
Clovis Mark Rolston
Luther Jason Cottle
Lance
NEXUS-9 Set Sjöstrand
Trixie Luci Christian
Miscellaneous characters
Bear Kevin Thompson
Kaiser John Edward Allen
Taffey Lewis Hy Pyke
Cambodian Lady Kimiko Hiroshige
Saleslady Carolyn DeMirjian
Abdul Ben Hassan Ben Astar
Joi Ana de Armas
Doc Badger Barkhad Abdi
Dr. Ana Stelline Carla Juri
Mister Cotton Lennie James
Lucy Devlin Pauley Perrette
Lawmaker Benedict Wong
Lawmaker #2 Ned Dennehy
Lawmaker #3 Ade Sapara
Lawmaker #4 Ania Marson
Salt Gerard Miller
Mother Orion Ben
Ella Gaia Ottman
Spectator Björn Freiberg
Ren Bryson Bauguss
Note: A gray cell indicates character did not appear in that medium.

Cultural impact[edit]

A 2006 image of a spinner (police variant) on display at Disney-MGM Studios.

While not initially a success with North American audiences, the film was popular internationally and garnered a cult following.[125] The film's dark style and futuristic designs have served as a benchmark and its influence can be seen in many subsequent science fiction films, video games, anime, and television programs.[126] For example, Ronald D. Moore and David Eick, the producers of the re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica, have both cited Blade Runner as one of the major influences for the show.[127] Blade Runner continues to reflect modern trends and concerns, and an increasing number consider it one of the greatest science fiction films of all time.[128] It was voted the best science fiction film ever made in a poll of 60 eminent world scientists conducted in 2004.[129] Blade Runner is also cited as an important influence to both the style and story of the Ghost in the Shell film series, which itself has been highly influential to the future-noir genre.[130][131]

Blade Runner has been very influential to the cyberpunk movement.[132][133][134][135] It also influenced the cyberpunk derivative biopunk that revolves around biotechnology and genetic engineering.[136][137]

The film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 1993 and is frequently used in university courses.[138] In 2007 it was named the second-most visually influential film of all time by the Visual Effects Society.[139]

Blade Runner is one of the most musically sampled films of the 20th century.[140] The 2009 album, I, Human, by Singaporean band Deus Ex Machina makes numerous references to the genetic engineering and cloning themes from the film, and even features a track titled "Replicant".[141]

Blade Runner has influenced adventure games such as the 2012 graphical text adventure Cypher,[142] Rise of the Dragon,[143][144] Snatcher,[144][145] the Tex Murphy series,[146] Beneath a Steel Sky,[147] Flashback: The Quest for Identity,[144] Bubblegum Crisis (and its original anime films),[148][149] the role-playing game Shadowrun,[144] the first-person shooter Perfect Dark,[150] and the Syndicate series of video games.[151][152] The film is also cited as a major influence on Warren Spector,[153] designer of the computer-game Deus Ex, which displays evidence of the film's influence in both its visual rendering and plot. The look of the film, darkness, neon lights and opacity of vision, is easier to render than complicated backdrops, making it a popular choice for game designers.[102][103]

Blade Runner has also been the subject of parody, such as the comics Blade Bummer by Crazy comics,[154] Bad Rubber by Steve Gallacci,[155] and the Red Dwarf 2009 three-part miniseries, "Back to Earth".[156][157]

Among the folklore that has developed around the film over the years has been the belief that the film was a curse to the companies whose logos were displayed prominently as product placements in some scenes.[158] While they were market leaders at the time, Atari, Bell, Cuisinart and Pan Am experienced setbacks after the film's release. The Coca-Cola Company suffered losses during its failed introduction of New Coke in 1985, but soon afterwards regained its market share.[159]

Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee who dazzled the world by running in the 2012 Olympics on blade-like prosthetic legs, was given the nickname "Blade Runner" by the media for "literally running on blades",[160][161] leading him to later title his autobiography Blade Runner: My Story.[162]

Media recognitions for Blade Runner include:

Year Presenter Title Rank Notes
2001 The Village Voice 100 Best Films of the 20th Century 94 [163]
2002 Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) Top 100 Sci-fi Films of the Past 100 Years 2 [164]
Sight & Sound Sight & Sound Top Ten Poll 2002 45 [165]
50 Klassiker, Film None [166]
2003 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die [167]
Entertainment Weekly The Top 50 Cult Movies 9 [168]
2004 The Guardian, scientists Top 10 Sci-fi Films of All Time 1 [169][170][171]
2005 Total Film's editors 100 Greatest Movies of All Time 47 [172]
Time's critics "All-TIME" 100 Best Movies None [173][174][175]
2008 New Scientist All-time favorite science fiction film (readers and staff) 1 [176][177]
Empire The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time 20 [178]
2010 IGN Top 25 Sci-Fi Movies of All Time 1 [179]
Total Film 100 Greatest Movies of All Time None [180]
2012 Sight & Sound Sight & Sound 2012 critics top 250 films 69 [181]
Sight & Sound Sight & Sound 2012 directors top 100 films 67 [182]
2014 Empire The 301 Greatest Movies of All Time 11 [183]

Unofficially related media[edit]

Soldier (1998)[edit]

Soldier is a 1998 American science fiction action film directed by Paul W. S. Anderson and written by David Peoples (credited as David Webb Peoples). The film tells the story of a highly skilled genetically-advanced soldier defying his commanders and facing a relentless and brutal rival soldier. In the DVD commentary of Soldier, Peoples revealed that he had written the film's script in 1982, during production of Blade Runner.[184] In 1998, while promoting Soldier (then recently released), Peoples then revealed that he had written Soldier as a "spin-off sidequel-spiritual successor" to Blade Runner, seeing both films as existing in the same fictional universe.[185][186] The film obliquely refers to various elements of stories written by Philip K. Dick, and film adaptations thereof. Connections to Blade Runner in the film are as follows:

  • A Spinner from Blade Runner can be seen in the wreckage on a junk planet in the film.[187][188][189]
  • One of the battles Kurt Russell's "Todd" character fought in, according to his battle records tattooed on his arm was "The Battle of Tannhäuser Gate", which Rutger Hauer's Roy Batty had mentioned having also fought in Blade Runner.[187][188][189]
  • An implication in the film is that the genetically-engineered soldiers meant to replace Todd and his fellow soldiers are in fact replicants, continuing a theme from Blade Runner. The 2017 short film 2036: Nexus Dawn implies that Nexus-9 replicants were developed in 2035, the year in which Soldier takes place.[187][188][189]
  • Incidentally, "The Battle of Tannhäuser Gate" is shown onscreen in one of the film's deleted scenes.[187][188][189]

Total Recall 2070 (1999)[edit]

The television film Total Recall 2070 was initially planned as a spin-off of the film Total Recall, and would eventually be transformed into a hybrid of Total Recall and Blade Runner.[190] The Total Recall film was also based on a Philip K. Dick story, "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale"; many similarities between Total Recall 2070 and Blade Runner were noted, as well as apparent inspiration from Isaac Asimov's The Caves of Steel and the TV series Holmes & Yoyo.[191]

Fan films[edit]

What Might Have Been: Snake Dance (2012)[edit]

On December 12, 2012, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the release of Blade Runner, Joanna Cassidy, who portrayed the replicant Zhora Salome in the film, released a short film on her YouTube channel entitled What Might Have Been: Snake Dance.[192] Directed by Paul Sammon, based on an unfilmed scene from Blade Runner written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, with Cassidy reprising her role as Zhora, the film depicts the replicant performing the "snake dance", a dance Salome was stated to do for a living in Blade Runner. The song "Touched A Dream" by R. Kelly plays over the course of the film. The film, set shortly before the events of the original 1982 film, originated from Cassidy's infrequent unsuccessful to have the "snake dance" scene mentioned in Blade Runner filmed for Blade Runner: The Final Cut; despite this, Cassidy was successful in having Zhora's death scene refilmed, as a stunt double had filmed the scene in the theatrical version of the film.[193]

Blade Runner – The Aquarelle Edition (2013)[edit]

Blade Runner – The Aquarelle Edition is a 2013 film reinterpretation of Blade Runner (1982). Running 35 minutes, the film follows the general storyline of the original film while taking certain liberties, with the film creator, Anders Ramsell referring to the film as a "paraphrase" of the original Blade Runner.[194] The animated film, developed over the course of one and a half years, consists of 12,597 handmade aquarelle paintings. Archival audio from various characters from Blade Runner is reused during the film. Critic Mike Krumboltz observed of the film: the "result is like a Monet painting come to dystopian life".[195]

Tears in the Rain (2017)[edit]

Tears in the Rain is a 2017 short film set in the fictional universe established by Blade Runner (1982), set before the events of the film.[196] Written and directed by Christopher Grant Harvey on a budget of $1,500,[197] Tears in the Rain follows John Kampff (Sean Cameron Michael), the future inventor of the Voight-Kampff machine, as he heads up the Tyrell Retirement Division. Following the recent rebellion of Nexus-3 replicants off-world, Kampff confronts Nexus-3 Andy Smith (Russel Savadier) a replicant janitor unaware of his true nature, as his body is about to shut down.[198] Eleven minutes and eleven seconds in length, the film has won multiple awards.[199]

Slice of Life[edit]

Slice of Life is an upcoming short film set in the fictional universe established by Blade Runner (1982), set in 2019, the same year as the events of Blade Runner.[200] Made without the use of computer-generated imagery, the film was developed over the course of three years, directed by Luka Hrgović and written by Anton Svetić, with a budget of $30,000 to be raised of Kickstarter. When completed, the film is due to be approximately 25–30 minutes long.[201] The film follows “low-life drug dealer who tries to turn his life around, but finds himself at the mercy of fate when he encounters a cop with an agenda of his own”.[202][203]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Some editions of Nourse's novel use the two-word spacing Blade Runner, as does the Burroughs book.

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  2. ^ Dick quoted in Sammon, p. 23
  3. ^ Sammon, pp. 23–30
  4. ^ Sammon, pp. 43–49
  5. ^ Sammon, pp. 49–63
  6. ^ Sammon, p. 49
  7. ^ Bukatman, pp. 18–19; Sammon, pp. 64–67
  8. ^ Sammon, pp. 63–64
  9. ^ Sammon, pp. 67–69
  10. ^ Sammon, p. 284
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