If Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve had his way, Harrison Ford’s appearance would have been kept a secret. The belated sequel to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner managed the rare feat of being a follow-up worthy of its predecessor. It expanded on the themes and the world of the original film while adding its own unique elements.
While Blade Runner 2049 has received almost universal praise for its story, performances and gorgeous cinematography, the good reviews didn’t translate to box office success, and the film is projected to lose around $80 million for the studio. Producer Ridley Scott bluntly stated the film’s failure was because it was “Too long. too slow,” while Villeneuve is still a little mystified by 2049’s financial under-performance.
Another factor many cite as a failing for Blade Runner 2049 was the mysterious promotional campaign, where even key details viewers learn quickly in the film - like Ryan Gosling’s protagonist being a replicant - were kept secret. In an interview with the Empire Podcast, Villeneuve admits if he’d had his way, Ford's return as Rick Deckard would have also been kept a surprise:
Listen, as a film director I would love to keep everything a secret, I would love the audience just to trust and come to the theater having not seen anything of the movie. Because of course, when you design the film you try to create surprises, tension… at the end of the day it would have been tough because everyone knew that Harrison was on the project, but yes, the answer I would have loved the audience not to know how he appears, where he appears, yeah.
While Ford’s third act reappearance could conceivably have been kept under wraps, it’s probably for the best the film didn’t try. Ford’s return was one of the few marketing hooks at Blade Runner 2049’s disposal, and the story is essentially focused on finding Deckard anyway. It may have been a nice surprise for fans, but ultimately, his appearance felt somewhat inevitable. Villeneuve also revealed that Deckard’s dog survived the replicant attack, but a scene showing this was cut. The director also refuses to confirm or deny whether Deckard is a replicant - or even if his dog is one also.
While Blade Runner 2049’s dismal box office probably rules out a further sequel, Ridley Scott has confirmed he has an idea for one. Just like Scott’s other sci-fi franchise Alien, the future of the series in limbo for the moment. In the case of the Alien franchise, Scott has also revealed he’d like to drop the iconic title monster in favor of focusing on A.I.s instead, which is proving controversial amongst fans. Given the disappointing revenue of both Alien: Covenant and Blade Runner 2049, he may not get the chance to explore either universe again.