Blade Runner 2049's hologram fight sequence - where Deckard and K come to blows in an abandoned casino - came close to being cut, the film's editor has revealed. Blade Runner 2049 had a lot to live up to, being the belated sequel to one of the most iconic science fiction films of all time. The sequel more than rose to the challenge though, feeling like a natural extension of the original movie while telling its own story.
Sadly, despite the strong reviews and levels of hype prior to release, the film wasn’t a success, so another sequel looks unlikely. Some blame the film’s performance on the marketing campaign, which was extremely vague on what the actual story of the movie was. Others also point to Blade Runner being more of a cult film than a tentpole, so a big-budget sequel was always going to struggle.
Blade Runner 2049’s editor Joe Walker sat down for a lengthy, in-depth discussion about cutting the film with Provideo Coalition. The chat covers many aspects of the production, but of particular note is that the hologram fight scene in Las Vegas was nearly cut entirely because it was so tricky to put together. After explaining how complex the scene was to shoot, Walker reveals why he and director Denis Villeneuve came close to axing it:
So when we got back to Los Angeles, soon after Thanksgiving 2016, we sat and watched the First Assembly. Denis said, everything is fantastic, it’s going to work, except one scene: the Hologram Funhouse. We’d been toiling on that on and off for six months so it was disappointing, but I knew he was right. Tonally it didn’t fit, it didn’t feel like Blade Runner. Denis’ point was that the last time Deckard met a Replicant, it was Roy Batty, who nearly killed him. So this should be full of fear and tension. A manhunt, not a variety act. Deckard turns on those holograms because it gives him an advantage, he knows where and when the light will fall. So Denis and I recut the scene to maximize this and we dumped a lot of the layers of holograms. Really great footage of pole dancers spinning down from the ceiling, all had to go.
Thankfully, their re-cutting saved the sequence, which is one of the film's standout scenes. Walker also talks about how the first assembly cut of Blade Runner 2049 was approaching four hours, and that many scenes - including a sequence showing K and Joi flying to Las Vegas - got cut for time. Unfortunately, they’re unlikely to wind up on Blu-ray:
Denis doesn’t like deleted scenes on Blu-rays and I tend to agree. There’s a reason why you chop scenes out and although I respect the fact that there’s some fan interest out there, we wanted to make one definitive cut of Blade Runner 2049.
Whereas Blade Runner became famous for various different cuts, it seems that Villeneuve is determined to make sure there’s only one version of Blade Runner 2049. Fans of the film should check out Walker’s entire interview if they want a unique insight into how the sequel was put together, including the way the story was formed in the edit.