Science fiction films are struggling.
Blade Runner 2049 has garnered 158 million in revenue with its 150 million budget. It goes without saying that even while the film itself is a masterpiece, it is a big and disappointing flop.
The question is why. Was it the trailer that kept all the juicy details hidden? Was it the notorious word-of-mouth, three-hour bore? Did it have enough explosions, gunfights, and wild chases? Was it about the treatment of women in the film?
We could look to previous science-fiction films Jupiter Ascending and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets as prime examples of science fiction films failing. We could also look to the rise of fast, action-paced movies which give us explosions every ten minutes. Even Star Wars and Star Trek have some of these elements infused into them.
There's a lot of speculation why Blade Runner 2049 bombed in the box office, but one which appears to stand out most is the movie's slow pace.
The film offers scenes with delicious visuals of the world and stretches them for long periods of time with powerful music in the background. This is unlike Christopher Nolan's Interstellar, in which the sound has been amped to navigate your emotions to what the scene is showing you. The sound from Blade Runner 2049 is soft but rich and powerful, and never demands any kind of emotion.
The neo-noir genre is about investigation and provoking thoughts; and therefore details are laid out in front of you to observe, analyze, and digest. If you look at it this way, there really is no hope for Blade Runner 2049 to make an explosive impression. It's a kind of film which you might appreciate more on your own TV.
The dialogue is mostly devoid of humor and whiplash comebacks. It's all business, a grim world that reflects modern culture. The film gives us a strong and educated guess about the future; and with new, real world technologies being unearthed and powerful algorithms driving them, it appears to be approaching a future similar to the original Blade Runner.
If you take a peek at the original 1982 Blade Runner, with its 28 million budget and a 33 million box office revenue, I'm happy to say the sequel is following its footsteps towards another cult classic which fans will talk about for decades.