Legendary director Ridley Scott's 2014 Biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings received only so-so reviews (read ours) and a less than stellar domestic box office take (it did much better overseas), but given Scott's fan-beloved stature, this setback is unlikely to mute the anticipation for his next few projects. His adaptation of the celebrated Red Planet survival novel The Martian will hit theaters this November, he is continuing his Alien prequel series with Prometheus 2 and - perhaps most intriguing of all - the world is getting Blade Runner 2.
Alien may have been Scott's breakout film, but 1982's Blade Runner is not only the earliest (and still maybe the best) adaptation of the great sci-fi author Philip K. Dick's work, it remains a landmark sci-fi/neo-noir film. Despite taking certain liberties from the source novel (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), Blade Runner's vision of a crowded, flame-belching Los Angeles hellscape inspired a sub-genre of moody science fiction movies.
After months of Scott remaining vague on whether or not he'd be directing, we now have the official word from Alcon Entertainment that Scott is not helming the project. Denis Villeneuve, the Oscar nominated director of the highly praised drama/thriller Prisoners is in talks to direct Blade Runner 2, with the original film's star Harrison Ford confirmed to return as replicant hunter Rick Deckard.
Here is the full press release:
Harrison Ford is officially set to reprise his celebrated role of Rick Deckard in the sequel to Alcon Entertainment’s 'Blade Runner' and Academy Award nominee Denis Villeneuve to (Prisoners, Incendies) is in negotiations to direct, it was announced by Alcon co-founders and co-CEO’s Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson! The film is scheduled to start principle photography in summer of 2016. Hampton Fancher (co-writer of the original) and Michael Green have written the original screenplay, based on an idea by Fancher and Ridley Scott.
The story takes place several decades after the conclusion of the 1982 original.“We are honored that Harrison is joining us on this journey with Denis Villeneuve who is a singular talent, as we experienced personally on Prisoners,” said Johnson and Kosove, “Hampton and Michael, with Ridley Scott, have crafted a uniquely potent and faithful sequel to one of the most universally celebrated films of all time, and we couldn’t be more thrilled with this amazing, creative team.”
Ford will next be seen in 'The Age of Adaline' for Lionsgate before he reprises another iconic sci-fi role, returning as Han Solo in J.J. Abrams’ much anticipated 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens.' Villeneuve’s next, meanwhile, is the crime thriller Sicario, starring Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, and Benecio Del Toro, for Black Label Media and Lionsgate.
Alcon Entertainment acquired the film, television and ancillary franchise rights to Blade Runner in 2011 from producer Bud Yorkin to produce prequels and sequels to the iconic science-fiction thriller. Yorkin will serve as a producer on the sequel along with Kosove and Johnson. Cynthia Sikes Yorkin will co-produce.Frank Giustra and Tim Gamble, CEO’s of Thunderbird Films, will serve as executive producers.
We've already heard from Ridley Scott that Ford would be involved in some kind of limited capacity, but Denis Villeneuve is a somewhat unexpected name to hear as a contender for the director's chair. The tightly wound sense of mystery and suspense he brought to the Academy Award nominated Incendies - along with his followups Prisoners and Enemy - feel like a natural fit with the Blade Runner universe, making Villeneuve seem like an inspired choice.
Despite all the effort Scott has seemingly put into the Blade Runner 2 script - which he insists is "very, very good" - his name only shows up in this press release as almost an afterthought, with the screenplay by Michael Green (Green Lantern) and the original's scribe Hampton Fancher, "based on an idea" by Scott and Fancher. Is this a way to keep the focus away from Scott, whose last few films have been seen as middling (Exodus: Gods and Kings), divisive (Prometheus), or just plain bad (Robin Hood)?
Maybe... and maybe Scott's schedule takes him out of the running to have a more hands-on role, but the addition of a fresh creative perspective to a classic cinematic world Scott created is ultimately cause for hope. The excited reaction to the news that Neill Blomkamp's Alien 5 is moving forward is a perfect example.
Still, Blade Runner seems to be the one film that Ridley Scott just cannot bear to stay away from for long, as evidenced by the movie's multiple versions. As for Ford, seeing him reprise yet another iconic role from decades past soon after Star Wars: The Force Awakens would be fascinating. He is predictably front and center in Alcon's press release, but placing Ford as the central piece of news could mean that there is a chance that Rick Deckard's role may have been expanded. We won't know for sure until more details about the film's plot are released.
What do you think about this news, Screen Ranters? Is Villeneuve a good choice for Blade Runner 2? Are you looking forward to more Harrison Ford? Sound off in the comments!
Blade Runner 2 currently has no release date. Stay tuned for details as they become available.