Now that Sir Ridley Scott has officially decided he will be returning to the Blade Runner universe, the next step will be to recruit a screenwriter (or two) to develop a story and script for the already highly-anticipated sci-fi project.
Oscar-nominee David Webb Peoples (Unforgiven, Twelve Monkeys) and Hampton Fancher devised the screenplay for the original Blade Runner - based on Philip K. Dick's novel, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" - but neither one of those writers have worked on a produced script for over a decade. So while their return would be welcomed by many a fan, it's never been considered all that likely.
Twitch is reporting that Scott Z. Burns is currently "the top choice" to script a new and original storyline set in the Blade Runner universe. Furthermore, Scott, Alcon Entertainment heads Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove, and Warner Bros. officials have begun talks to bring Burns onboard.
Burns has become an increasingly in-demand talent since he worked on the script for 2007's The Bourne Ultimatum. He's since collaborated with director Steven Soderbergh three times - on The Informant!, the currently-playing Contagion, and the upcoming Man From U.N.C.L.E. TV show adaptation - and was hired on to write the new 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea adaptation for David Fincher.
Scott and his production team have yet to reveal the nature of this second installment in the Blade Runner franchise - that is, whether they are devising a direct sequel/prequel to the 1982 film or a spinoff project that loosely (if at all) ties into the events of its predecessor.
One thing seems clear, though: Harrison Ford will not be involved with this project. So, those of you who were hoping the new Blade Runner film would finally provide a cannon answer to the much-debated question of whether or not Rick Deckard is/was actually a replicant... well, don't hold your breath.
Seeing how Burns has already proven himself to be a consistently top-notch screenwriter - having delivered a handful of excellent films that nicely mix brains with engaging drama and action - his potentially being hired on sounds like another wise decision, on the part of the creative minds behind this new Blade Runner flick.
Johnson and Kosove in particular seem to be making all the right moves, in the preliminary stages of development on the upcoming Blade Runner film. They are not attempting to rush the project through the production pipeline; the pair, by their own claim, were always planning to recruit either Scott or another highly-respected auteur (specifically, Christopher Nolan) as director; and now, they're looking to hire on a writer with a solid resume full of entertaining and cerebral titles.
Bear in mind - it may be a while before we have a really good idea of how this project is going to turn out. Case in point: recall that Scott's return to the Alien franchise eventually evolved from being two 3D prequels into a spinoff titled Prometheus... and we still have little concrete information about that film!
We will continue to keep you posted on the status of the new Blade Runner project as the story develops.