Advanced ticket sales for Blade Runner 2049 are outpacing similar genre titles such as Mad Max: Fury Road and The Martian. Denis Villeneuve’s highly-anticipated followup to Ridley Scott’s groundbreaking sci-fi classic is poised to be one of the biggest films of the fall, as evidenced by the sterling critical reception hailing it as a modern masterpiece of craft and storytelling. Fans of the original were justifiably skeptical the sequel could come close to matching its predecessor in quality, but by all accounts, Villeneuve pulled it off and continued the Blade Runner story in an immensely satisfying way.
In theory, this kind of word-of-mouth should have a positive effect on 2049‘s commercial prospects. Though its extensive running time and R-rating may limit its widespread appeal, the film ranks among the most-awaited offerings coming out in the next few months. Early projections indicate it should make between $43 – 47 million opening weekend, which would surpass the unadjusted domestic total of the first Blade Runner. Now, thanks to tickets going on sale early, the movie could be in even better shape financially than originally anticipated.
Per Variety, Blade Runner 2049 is topping the likes of Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, and Gravity on Fandango at the same point in their respective pre-release cycles. This means Blade Runner could have an outside chance of breaking the all-time October opening record, which was set by Gravity ($55.7 million) back in 2013. Though 2049‘s 2.5 hour runtime means it will see fewer screenings on a daily basis, it should get a boost from premium IMAX and 3D rates. All of the reviews have praised the film’s technical aspects, saying it’s a must-see on the biggest of screens. This appears to be one of the movies worth the added investment of an IMAX ticket.
Recent developments have Blade Runner 2049 poised for a lucrative run fueled by strong legs. It’s riding an enormous wave of positive buzz, which will pique the interests of casual viewers and die-hard fans alike. Additionally, the original film currently has the standing of one of the greatest sci-fi films ever made and is a key part of the pop culture zeitgeist. Initially, Scott’s film was more divisive as it bombed at the box office, but its reputation grew in the years since. This means that there’s a built-in audience for this material, as many are eager to return to the futuristic Los Angeles and learn more secrets about the Blade Runner universe. And – IT notwithstanding – the marketplace has been a little barren of late, so there will be a demand to see a new genre blockbuster.
All in all, this has to be very pleasing for both Villeneuve and Warner Bros./Sony (the studios handling the domestic and worldwide distribution, respectively). The filmmaker felt the pressure of this monumental task every day while working on 2049, so it comes as a great relief to him the response is as enthusiastic as it is. From a business perspective, Blade Runner is said to have a production budget in the neighborhood of $185 million, so hopefully it can parlay the reactions into a sizable box office haul, becoming another hit for WB in the process.
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