Denis Villeneuve was so nervous about Ridley Scott watching him work on the set of Blade Runner 2049, he had to ask him to leave. Making a belated sequel to Blade Runner - a film that's rightfully considered a sci-fi masterpiece - was always going to be a tall order, but Villeneuve managed to pull it off with style. Blade Runner 2049 felt like an organic follow-up to the original while managing to update its themes and bring fresh ideas of its own.
While the film itself received rave reviews and word of mouth, it failed to connect with audiences and looks set to lose money for the studio. Original Blade Runner director Ridley Scott was too busy on Alien: Covenant to helm the sequel himself, but he remained as a hands-on producer. He gave Villeneuve creative freedom to make the movie as he envisioned, but the one day Scott came to visit proved nerve-racking for the director.
Villeneuve described the day in an interview for Deadline’s new series Behind The Lens, where Scott was watching him direct a scene with Harrison Ford. Having the director of the original Blade Runner watching him work ultimately proved to be a little too much pressure:
"He came on set one day and after a few minutes standing behind me it was unbearable. I made a joke, I said to him, 'Hey Ridley, who is your favorite director?' And he said, 'I love Ingmar Bergman and Kubrick.' I said 'I love Bergman too. So Ridley, how would you feel if you were on set and you had Bergman just behind you?'
"And he burst out laughing and he walked off the set. Because I was trying to direct Harrison Ford and I was like, 'Nope, it doesn't work.'"
While Villeneuve may have been disappointed with the box office performance of Blade Runner 2049, he’s glad the film was warmly received by those who saw it. The director is currently developing a new adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sprawling sci-fi novel Dune. The director has previously called the movie a dream project, but is keen to note his take will have nothing in common with David Lynch’s 1984 Dune. While that version has its merits, the film itself is generally considered Lynch’s weakest; in fact, the director had such a miserable time working on Dune he’s since disowned it.
Blade Runner 2049 was the second franchise Ridley Scott returned to in 2017, following Alien: Covenant. While the box office of 2049 makes another return to that universe unlikely, the Alien series currently seems in limbo. Covenant was supposed to lead to more sequels, but its disappointing box-office has thrown Scott’s plans in doubt. The director also made the somewhat controversial statement recently that he thinks the Xenomorph has “almost run out,” and he wants to replace it with Michael Fassbender’s android David as the new franchise villain. Fans of the series didn't react well to this comment, so time will tell if Fox is willing to press ahead with the director’s bold vision.