Yes, a four-hour cut of Blade Runner 2049 does exist but no, we're never going to see it. Director Denis Villeneuve has confirmed that the initial cut of the sequel did clock in at a crazy four hours in length, but he says that version of the movie never was considered for release. Here's what he had to say about it in a recent interview.
"[Laughs] No. The thing is, it's true that the first cut was four hours and at one point we were like, 'Okay, do we go to the producer and release it in two?' But let's say the idea of the movie being in two parts didn't get out of the editing room. [Laughs] No, the best incarnation of the movie is what is in the theater. What was striking is that the four-hour cut was quite strong. But personally I prefer the one that is in the theater because it's more elegant, I would say. But there are some scenes that were like [makes boosh sound]. Quite strong."
Given what happened with Blade Runner 2049 at the box office, the idea of turning the one movie, which was nearly three-hours long, into two movies at two hours each, is interesting, at least from a business perspective. Blade Runner 2049, which stars Ryan Gosling and takes place 30 years after the events of the original, made $258.2 million worldwide working from a $150 million budget. That makes it something of a bomb. Denis Villeneuve says that, despite having to cut a lot out of the movie, it wasn't hard to do.
"No, you have to kill your darlings and I think four hours was too self-indulgent. And it's a strange conversation because we're talking about Blade Runner, so people want to know if there are other kinds of cuts. It's [that way] in all movies; there's always a long cut at the beginning. The first cut is always long and it's a process and a lot of editing."
Ridley Scott, who directed the original Blade Runner, famously released several different cuts of the movie, with The Final Cut generally considered to be the best version of the movie. Which, interestingly, wasn't released until 2007. As for all of that extra footage? Not only are we not going to see the four-hour cut, but we may never see any of the footage at all.
"I will say that there's no great things that are being lost. When I cut something, it's dead. It means it was not good enough. Even if sometimes I'm cutting my favorite shots, I still strongly think that when it's cut on the floor of the editing room it should not go back to see the light of day again. I don't like extended cuts. I must say, apart from Touch of Evil and Blade Runner, I have never seen a director's cut that was better than the original. I mean, I'm not a fan at all of Apocalypse Now Redux. I thought it was a massive mistake to do Apocalypse Now Redux. It's true that maybe sometimes the director lost control and had to do what producers - but, most of the time the movie stands by itself. It's stronger than one individual...Yeah and honestly, that's the movie I made. I will not show it to anyone, the four hours, it doesn't work. The movie you see right now is the one."
Despite the lackluster box office, Blade Runner 2049 remains one of the most critically beloved movies of 2017. It also feels like a movie that will live on far beyond the money it made during its theatrical run. For more with director Denis Villeneuve, you can read the full interview over at Screen Crush.