The original Blade Runner is notorious for its multiple versions. The movie was first released in 1982 in its third form with a happy ending and film noir-inspired voiceover from Harrison Ford. That's the version that was a box office flop. Ten years later, a "director's cut" was made excising the voiceover and the happy ending. Ridley Scott went even further another 15 years later with his "final cut." All in, there have been eight different versions shown, five of which are available to fans in box set form.
While not a unanimous opinion, most people prefer the final director's cut to the initial "workprint" release of Blade Runner. And the fact that it took so long for the preferred version to arrive has some curious about the future for its sequel, Blade Runner 2049. For one thing, is the follow-up a continuation of that final cut? Beyond that, will the version we see released next month be the sequel's ultimate version, or can we expect a director's cut down the road?
"The thing is, the movie you’re going to see is the director’s cut. There will be no further … maybe there’ll be a ‘studio version’ [laughs], maybe a producer version, but not a director’s version. That’s my director’s cut. So I don’t think there will be further versions. If there are alternate versions, they’re not from me."
So basically Villeneuve had final cut approval on the sequel, and that's good to know. Of course, in a way Blade Runner 2049 isn't entirely complete. Villeneuve and Ridley Scott, who is now a producer of the sequel, and screenwriters Hampton Fancher and Michael Green have made short film prequels that are additional pieces to the full package. Ridley Scott's son, Luke Scott, helmed both 2036: Nexus Dawn and 2048: Nowhere to Run, which are now online. A forthcoming third will be an anime short by Shinichio Watanabe.
Hopefully moviegoers will like the initial and likely final version of Villeneuve's feature more than they did the original 35 years ago. There are no reviews out for Blade Runner 2049 yet, but the embargo on social media reactions from critics will be lifting tomorrow (noon ET/9am PT). Everyone else will have to wait until October 6 to make up their own minds on whether the sequel is good enough or improvements would be welcomed a decade from now.
In the meantime, here's a new behind-the-scenes look at the making of Blade Runner 2049 from Vice: