'Blade Runner 2049' Was Originally Four Hours Long and Almost Two Parts

Tuesday, 31 October 2017 - 8:35PM
Blade Runner
Blade Runner 2049
Tuesday, 31 October 2017 - 8:35PM
'Blade Runner 2049' Was Originally Four Hours Long and Almost Two Parts
Warner Bros.
Blade Runner 2049 hasn't been faring well at the box office, in both America and overseas. Which is a shame, as it got a ton of extremely positive responses when it first came out (read our 2049 review here).

One thing that worked both for it and against it was the long runtime of two hours and 43 minutes. While, in the spirit of Blade Runner, it needed a runtime like that so it could tell a slow-paced, brooding noir story, it's easy to see how it might be discouraging for audiences who don't otherwise plan to sit in a movie theater for just under three hours (combining the film itself with previews, that could easily be how long you sat in that theater). 

So it may or may not come as a surprise that the movie was originally four hours long in an early cut of the film. According to 2049 editor Joe Walker, the assembly cut of the movie was so long that it had to be cut into two halves just so he could keep track of it. And director Denis Villeneuve began to consider splitting it into two films, since even three hours is already starting to push it.

Speaking to Provideo Coalition, Walker explained the following. Spoilers below, so stop reading here if you haven't seen the film, as the less you know going in, the better:

Opening quote
"The first assembly of the film was nearly four hours and for convenience sake and – to be honest – my bladder's sake, we broke it into two for viewings. That break revealed something about the story – it's in two halves. There's K discovering his true past as he sees it and at the halfway mark he kind of loses his virginity. The next morning, it's a different story, about meeting your maker and ultimately sacrifice – 'dying is the most human thing we do'.

Oddly enough both halves start with eyes opening. There's the giant eye opening at the beginning of the film and the second when Mariette wakes up and sneaks around K's apartment, the beginning of the 1st assembly part 2. We toyed with giving titles to each half but quickly dropped that. But what does remain is that there's something of a waking dream about the film. That's a very deliberate choice in terms of visuals but also the kind of pace they were striving for on set and the hallucinatory feel in the cut – it's the kind of dream where you tread inexorably closer to the truth."
Closing quote


Now, assembly cuts of movies are typically long, as a chunk of the editing process still has to be done. Considering the film had some bizarre names during early production like Blade Runner: Android's Dream or Blade Runner: Acid Zoo, it's not out of the question that the long cuts might've gone under these names.

It's just that "long" for Blade Runner 2049 is easily two movies' worth of usable footage, with plenty of deleted scenes out there somewhere. You might never see them, since Villeneuve isn't a fan of including deleted scenes on Blu-rays - and besides just that, he's been clear that unlike the original movie, the director's cut of 2049 is just the theatrical version. So whatever was dropped from those four hours, everybody was happy with seeing it go.

It's probably for the better anyway, as the only cut of the film we'll ever see was an extremely strong one, and it never felt like it was dragging. Again, deliberate pacing is part of what gives the series its "charm," if you could call it that - if the plot rocketed forward instead of lingering on rain and neon signs, it would feel like just another sci-fi action movie.

Science Fiction
Sci-Fi Movies
Blade Runner
Blade Runner 2049
No