To the disappointment of fans around the world, Blade Runner 2049 is under-performing at the box office. Its success was never guaranteed of course: Ridley Scott‘s original didn’t take off until it found an audience on the small screen. But with talk of a third film should the Ryan Gosling/Harrison Ford sci-fi sequel have made the numbers, it seems the possibility of a series is now further away than Roy Batty’s ability to respect peoples’ eyeballs.
The follow up was many years in the making, and since 1982 there have been attempts at reviving the scenario. I recall one rumour that they were going to shoot Blade Runner 2 on the leftover sets from Tim Burton‘s Batman!
Thankfully visionary director Denis Villeneuve arrived on the scene and created something that’s got critics and audiences shouting from the neon-lit, rain-drenched rooftops. It’s just a shame the endeavour won’t earn Warner Bros the expected mountain of cash. Mind you, the financial baggage of marketing that’s strapped to the already-overloaded elephant of movie-making means breaking even is a titanic challenge. Perhaps a second Blade Runner would have fared better had it been produced before these considerations came in?
Which brings me to The Edge Of Human, a story that joined Ford’s Rick Deckard mere months after the events of the first flick. It arrived in print form, care of author K.W. Jeter and saw the replicant hunter of the title pursued by remnants of the robot-producing Tyrell Corporation and the human subjects their deadly product were based on. Also featuring Deckard’s artificial companion Rachael (played onscreen by Sean Young) it rather confusingly blended elements from the movie with the source material, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. For example, William Sanderson‘s J.F. Sebastian perished in the original, whereas is alive and relatively well in Jeter’s novel.
In the late Nineties emerging British talent Stuart Hazeldine wrote a spec script based on The Edge Of Human, which he titled Blade Runner Down. The project never got off the ground but the bold, some might say foolhardy, move opened doors for Hazeldine in LA. He went on to write, direct and produce the acclaimed psychological thriller Exam.
Could this version of Deckard’s further exploits have succeeded where Villeneuve’s elaborate epic failed? That answer is lost like tears in rain, or maybe like a mobile phone down a drain, whichever metaphor you find more appropriate. Jeter went on to write two more books, so the material is there should producers want it. Intriguingly connections were recently established between Blade Runner‘s tech genius Eldon Tyrell and Peter Weyland from Scott’s Alien prequel Prometheus, so might aspects of the story be brought into the xenomorph-heavy franchise?
Reassuringly, despite the lack of money-fuelled momentum, Blade Runner 2049 is going down in history as one of the great movie sequels. And that’s rarer than a ray of sunshine in Los Angeles 2019!
A review of the screenplay for Blade Runner Down can be read here.
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