Today, Warner Bros. has announced that their Alcon Entertainment subsidiary has acquired the rights to Scott's iconic tale of the (now) not-too-distant future of 2019's dystopian Los Angeles in Blade Runner - based on the Philip K. Dick novel, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"
The original film, which starred Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, and Edward James Olmos, told the story of retired "Blade Runner," Rick Deckard (Ford) who is asked to return to work - killing aka "retiring" biologically engineered humanoids, called "Replicants," who have illegally immigrated back to Earth - instead of continuing to serve as slaves off-world.
According to the Warner Bros. press release, Alcon Entertainment, a Warner Bros-based financing and production company, whose prior credits include The Blind Side and The Book of Eli, have officially secured the "film, television and ancillary franchise rights" to future Blade Runner projects: sequels or prequels (but not a remake).
Regarding the agreement, Alcon Entertainment co-founders and co-Chief Executive Officers Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove stated:
“We are honored and excited to be in business with Bud Yorkin. This is a major acquisition for our company, and a personal favorite film for both of us. We recognize the responsibility we have to do justice to the memory of the original with any prequel or sequel we produce. We have long-term goals for the franchise, and are exploring multi-platform concepts, not just limiting ourselves to one medium only.”
As mentioned previously, the rights come with a few limitations:
- The franchise rights are all-inclusive - but do not allow for a remake of the original film.
- However, Alcon is allowed to "produce projects based on situations introduced in the original film."
Warner Bros. would be distributing any projects under the agreement, domestically - though the international rights have yet to be set in stone.
The sci-fi concept of philosophical and emotional "biologically engineered humanoids" featured in Blade Runner have no doubt inspired many of our favorite sci-fi films and TV series of the last twenty-five years - including the modern-remake of Battlestar Galactica as well as other sci-fi adaptations like I, Robot.
While a Blade Runner sequel would probably be the better of the two options (prequel or sequel), allowing a new filmmaker to expand on the universe and add their own stamp on the franchise, given Hollywood's obsession with prequels, it's more likely we'll see an earlier story about Blade Runners - when business was booming. Though, a sequel could allow for the continuation of Rick Deckard's story - as well as the return of Harrison Ford.
As far as the medium, while a competent Blade Runner TV series could have incredible potential, given Alcon's prior focus on films - I'm guessing we'll see the Blade Runner franchise on the big screen first.