The long-awaited sci-fi sequel Blade Runner 2049 was expected by many to continue a strong fall season at the box office, bolstered by Warner Bros.' surprise R-rated adaptation IT. But instead, it continued to prove how fickle box office audiences have become. After a weak box office debut of $32.7 million, while underperforming in international markets, a new report claims that the sequel could result in financier Alcon Entertainment losing upwards of $80 million. Alcon founders Broderick Kosove and Andrew Johnson revealed on the eve of the movie's release that it needed to make at least $400 million worldwide, and it will end up falling far short of that mark.
The movie, set 30 years after the events of the original Blade Runner, has earned just $85.7 million domestic and $155 million from international markets, for a worldwide total of $240.7 million. Adding to its woes is the fact that Blade Runner 2049 bombed in China, the second largest box office market in the world behind the U.S. earning just $10.9 million in the Middle Kingdom since opening there on October 27. The largest international market to date for this movie is the U.K. which has brought in $22.9 million. The movie has debuted in all of its international markets to date, so it seems unlikely that it won't earn much more than its global total as of today. Wall Street analyst Eric Handler of MKM Partners had this to say about the movie's box office performance.
"The first film was very much a cult classic, which translates into a nice film. Despite this film's excellent reviews, it could not really grow the audience beyond its core."
The Blade Runner 2049 reviews were in fact quite strong, with the sequel currently holding at an 88% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While Warner Bros. distributed Blade Runner 2049, through their longtime distribution deal with Alcon Entertainment, Warner Bros. did not have any financial stake in the sequel. The movie was financed through a joint deal with Alcon and Sony Pictures, a deal that proved to be more fruitful for Sony than for Alcon. Sony gave up a much bigger share of back-end profits so it would be the first to get back any revenue for the film, and they are also handling overseas distribution. Sony is expected to earn back all of their $110 million investment in the production, thanks to the shrewd deal negotiated by Sony Motion Picture Group chairman Tom Rothman.
Blade Runner 2049 cost $155 million to produce, which comes after rebates and tax incentives, but before any publicity and marketing costs. Ironically, the sequel could end up following the same path as its predecessor, which wasn't exactly a huge box office hit or a critical smash, but ended up being recognized as a cult classic over time, thanks to the boom of home video formats introduced shortly after Blade Runner hit theaters. While the sequel did have the critics on its side this time, it didn't seem to matter much at all, and the minor controversy that emerged over its portrayal of women certainly couldn't have helped matters much either.
Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve defended the marketing campaign that avoided any and all spoilers, and his insistence that the movie would not premiere on any of the fall film festivals, in continued effort to prevent any of the secrets from being leaked. Still, despite everything, the failure that was Blade Runner 2049 could simply be chalked up to a movie going audience that has had enough with sequels and reboots. Other big-budget sequels like Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, War For the Planet of the Apes, Transformers: The Last Knight, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Alien: Covenant, Rings, Jigsaw came in far under most box office projections, although other sequels such as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Despicable Me 3 are currently among the top 10 movies at the box office this year. You can check out The Hollywood Reporter for more on the box office bomb that is Blade Runner 2049.