‘Blade Runner 2049’ did poorly at the box office because the ladies didn’t show up

'Blade Runner 2049' photocall

I keep talking about how my mojo is off this year when it comes to predicting the critical response to certain films, and predicting the box office openings. Some recent examples: I thought that LEGO Ninjago movie was going to make bank, but it bombed; I thought ‘mother!’ would do well at the box office, but it didn’t; I worried that Wonder Woman would flop, but it’s one of the biggest movies of the year. Well, my instincts/mojo were kind of right about Blade Runner 2049. I kept seeing all of this hype for the film and I just kept thinking… but are people really excited to see it? The box office predictions were skyrocketing last week though, with B.O. experts claiming that the film would make $100 million or more in the opening weekend. Those experts were certainly helped along by the wall-to-wall positive critical response too. So what happened? MY MOJO IS BACK! Blade Runner 2049 did not do well.

It boasted an all-star cast and was touted as a future classic by critics, but Blade Runner 2049 has failed to live up to lofty expectations at the US box office, making substantially less than expected in ticket sales. The big-budget sequel to the seminal 1982 sci-fi movie took $31.5m on its opening weekend, a significantly lower figure than the $45m to $50m figure projected by its studio Warner Bros. The film, which is directed by Canadian film-maker Denis Villeneuve, is estimated to have cost over $150m to make.

“I’m disappointed we didn’t have a larger result this weekend on behalf of the owners of the film, Alcon,” said Jeff Goldstein, president of domestic distribution for Warner Bros. “We had bigger expectations for the weekend. The tracking and the advance sales indicated that there would be a stronger number.”

Hollywood analysts have suggested that the film’s struggles were a result of its inability to attract women and younger viewers: 71% of the audience for 2049, which stars Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford, was male and 86% of it was over 25. Other factors that may contributed to its failure include a lengthy run time of 163 minutes, which limited the number of screenings in cinemas, and its dark, adult tone.

“It’s an intellectually charged, apocalyptic sci-fi story. It’s not Close Encounters, it’s not Star Wars. It’s a challenging film. To me, those are the best type of films,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore. “But does it make it the most commercial? No. It was creatively and thematically perfectly executed … but it didn’t play to the numbers everyone thought.”

[From The Guardian]

I was going to make a joke about how women don’t really want to see a movie about a dystopian nightmare because we’re already living in that world, but really… women will support dystopian sci-fi projects (films, TV shows). Women will support those projects if there’s a strong feminist element, like The Handmaid’s Tale or Mad Max: Fury Road. What women saw from the promotion of BR2049 was that it was made by and for men. Even the “creator” of these fake humans was a man (played by Jared Leto). I also think this shows that Ryan Gosling has never really been a huge box office draw, right? Even the combination of Harrison Ford plus Gosling didn’t mean much.

'Blade Runner 2049' photocall in Madrid

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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72 Responses to “‘Blade Runner 2049’ did poorly at the box office because the ladies didn’t show up”

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  1. i, pet goat 2 says:

    I love cyberpunk, love the original, but was seriously considering if its worth it to go. There were no women speaking in the trailer I saw for this new Blade Runner. I just expect more of my movies in 2017.

    • Don't kill me I am French says:

      The real baddie is acted by a woman ( Leto has barely 10 min of screen time), Robin Wright made a 15 min cameo and Gosling’s “ girlfriend” is charming and often naked

    • Chaine says:

      I saw it. All of the women characters are white and sexy, and they revolve around the men with no other raison d’être. I didn’t feel as if there were any women’s hands in the making of it.

    • Katie M says:

      I absolutely loved Blade Runner 2049 – saw it in IMAX, and the theatre was about 60/40 men/women.

      GO SEE THIS MOVIE RIGHT NOW. Robin Wright is a badass in it. So is this one crazy “replicant” character, who is sometimes sympathetic, but overall just a killer baddie. There are lots of strong women in the film, but it also says really interesting things about the future of women in a dystopian society, where they’re oppressed and used. The main character has a simulated wife that does whatever he wants, and it’s just sad. It’s shown as sad.

      Blade runner 2049 is a feminist movie.

      It’s not an action movie, which is what I expected. It’s more of a slow burning thriller. I think it’s Harrison Ford’s best performance on screen, ever.

      Very worth seeing in IMAX, because of the stunning visuals. I was planning on just waiting to see it on Netflix and saw it on a whim – pretty much has to be seen on a big screen. A lot of the shots just envelop you completely. People gasped in the theatre when the main character goes into this orange desert – the way they did it was stunning.

  2. Aang says:

    I’ve never liked movies about how terrible the future is going to be. The present has always seemed horrifying enough.

    • isabelle says:

      Blade Runner isn’t apocalyptic or about a terrible landscape/future. Its set in the future and basically just a storyline set with the future as the stage.

      • Susan says:

        Blade Runner is not apocalyptic? Earth has become a barren wasteland of grim rain and no nature where essentially only undesirable humans are left along with replicants (droids) (the rest of humanity having fled earth for other colonies). It’s like the definition of a bleak apocalypse.

    • ORIGINAL T.C. says:

      Hunger Games was set in a dystopian future with the themes of child soldiers, reality TV taken to the extreme of watching children kill each other while adults had viewing parties and poverty yet everyone of every gender and age went to see it.

      I personally like sci-fi movies and dark futuristic movies *if* they are interesting. I saw the original Blade Runner and wasn’t impressed. You are told the spoiler by one of the characters midway. Additionally the technology in the film didn’t age well. The concepts brought up in the movie have been done again and again in Hollywood since that time so it can be a bit boring.

      I believe Star Wars sequels were released at the same time period yet I can watch those films now and still think the technology holds up and the storyline is a classic. Blade Runner is pseudo intellectual it’s sequel made for male nerds on the internet who think they are smart.

    • Katie M says:

      You should go see it. It’s ultimately about the humanity in all of these people in this sad situation. I left the theater feeling very uplifted about humanity and what it means to be human.

      It’s a dark film, but incredibly beautiful.

  3. Nikki says:

    As I woman I don’t feel the need for a strong feminist element in movies, but understand that some do. I did go see this one as I enjoyed the original, and the reviews were stellar. Buuuuuut it was so dull, it was extremely slow moving and I just didn’t see all the “amazing visual effects” that were touted. It was ok at best, which I hate saying as Han Solo was in it 🙁

    • Kanye's Blonde Hair says:

      Agreed about women not needing a feminist element. I don’t want women characters or storylines to feel like tokenism either. A good story is a good story, period.

      I didn’t see it because I don’t know what it’s about. I never saw the original because it was before I was born and I just never knew what the plot was besides “future”. So with a new one, I think they made a mistake in the marketing for it. It was dark, boring and seemed slow in the trailers in addition to seeming like it was marketing to people who already were fans of the original.

      Basically, it didn’t connect to me as a new potential fan, when it seemed like they were catering to fans who already loved the first one.

      • lunchcoma says:

        I got that feeling too, Kanye’s Blonde Hair. I have seen the original movie and probably will get around to seeing this one, but the ads didn’t promise a whole lot more than, “Hey, you loved Blade Runner, right? Here’s more of it, with Ryan Gosling!” The problem is that the original Blade Runner wasn’t a huge hit when it was released, nor is it the kind of fun movie that people sit around watching with their families on TV. If you don’t reach out to new audiences, all you’re going to get is the same people who loved the original – a smallish group of mostly adult men – and you’ll miss out on women and youth audiences.

    • teacakes says:

      @Nikki – I fell asleep watching it. I wish that was a figure of speech, but I actually nodded off and didn’t wake up until Harrison Ford was onscreen, though I did catch the Gaff.

      • Aurelia says:

        Saw it with my husband and he actually fell asleep in this boring, dreadful movie. We considered walking out mid way as it was dull A.F. Visually interesting but a washout.

    • Veronica says:

      I don’t need it to be feminist, per se, but there’s something to be said about fantasy needing to be inclusive. If a viewer can’t find themselves in the fantasy, they’re less likely to empathize with the story in a way that inspires them to see it.

      This being said, now would be a good time for Hollywood to stop pretending that female buying power is worth less than male. We can make or break films with our monetary participation.

  4. Nicole says:

    This is probably the first movie I’ve been off about. I knew WW would kill it. I knew mother would be trash. I knew Spiderman would make a splash. I knew IT would be good. So far so good on my (movie) picker. I thought the inherent blade runner audience would see this movie but i guess not.
    I didn’t see it this weekend. I wasn’t interested

  5. minx says:

    I’m old enough to remember when the original Blade Runner came out–it was original and didn’t look like anything else. IIRC it didn’t do that well at the box office but it gained popularity over the years. Now there are dystopian movies every week, it seems.

    • isabelle says:

      The original Blade Runner was also a flop and gained more money as it aged. It still is making money.

      • minx says:

        Yes, I just went to IMDB. It cost $28 million to make and made $27 million in its original run.

      • isabelle says:

        A beautifully shot unique film for that little of budget. Pretty impressive. The Directors cut is long and even more impressive they shot with such a small budget.

    • ORIGINAL T.C. says:

      Totally agree.

    • M.A.F. says:

      And if you want to watch the original, there are too many different versions on the market. I picked what I thought was the most recent only to find out maybe it wasn’t the one (I guess there is a different ending) but at least it didn’t have the voice over. I had thought about going to watch this this weekend but decided against it (didn’t want to spend the movie) so I watched Assassins Creed on HBO Go.

  6. Amide says:

    I feel bad for Gosling, he really promoted this movie.
    Apparently, Harrison Ford is only in this for like 30 minutes!😱😲
    Funny enough Gosling’s frequent costar, Emma Stone is also flopping hard with Battle of the Sexes. Emma and BJK promoted the crap out of it, but the ladies did not show up either. ( Esp given the subject matter).

    • minx says:

      I think Battle of the Sexes would have been better on Netflix or something. In fact when they first were promoting it I thought it was a TV movie.

      • Sage says:

        IA, Battle of the Sexes and I,Tonya would have been better off a streaming service. I can’t vision either movie will be a box office hit.

      • M.A.F. says:

        I could have sworn Battle of the Sexes was going to be on HBO but turns out it’s a movie for the theaters.

    • Don't kill me I am French says:

      Ford is a supporting character ( at the end)

    • lunchcoma says:

      There aren’t really any movie stars anymore. Jennifer Lawrence’s last couple projects have flopped too. People these days go to see movies they think are compelling, and if they love a particular actor but think a film sounds iffy, will tend to wait until it’s available for streaming.

    • dowdowdowd says:

      BotS has the WORST name ever. I don’t think anyone can take it seriously bc of that.

  7. Don't kill me I am French says:

    I watched the movie because of the hype (“masterpiece”) by the reviews.
    I think the movie’s length was an important factor to the failure.
    Sadly beautiful cinematography and some Evangelis rip off didn’t deserve a 2h45 movie.
    The main problem is the unoriginal dull and poor script .No story and Ryan Gosling’s bland acting.
    There is a great 1h45 movie in this 2h45 movie

    • lifeiskickingmy says:

      Totally agree, and disappointed since I was really looking forward to seeing this 🙁 It was visually stunning, but seemed to slow down just so you could spend more time looking at the sets. The plot got lost several times and it needed more editing, I also noticed that it borrowed the story from several other movies like you did.

  8. Jules343 says:

    That’s a shame. It’s a great film, better than the original imo.

    • Katie M says:

      I loved it too! I feel like everyone else on this board is batshit crazy.

      It’s my favourite film of the last 5 years, since No Country for Old Men.

  9. jello says:

    It’s a great film and Gosling is as incredible as ever. more people should watch it

  10. Darla says:

    I was probably going to see this, but I’m so disgusted these days, I’ve cancelled men. I mean it. Take your male-centric movies and stick them. I’m not paying to see them. I’m done with all of this.

    • i, pet goat 2 says:

      Haha yes that’s sort of what I was saying in my first comment, too. Too male-centric.

    • Chaine says:

      I know what you mean. I changed the way I watch Netflix to googling for women directors or women screen writers and watching their stuff instead of just looking at “top 50 movies” lists. I have ended up watching some very interesting things that did not make a blip on my radar before. ETA: I did go see the new Blade Runner as my date wanted to see it… even he was disappointed by the film.

    • Candion says:

      haha I cancelled men back in the 80’s and I should have stuck with that!

    • April Underwater says:

      The first one, which I liked and thought was interesting, had a female character who was basically “built” to be a sentient sexbot (“basic pleasure model” I think they called her), which is maybe excusable for a 1982 movie based on a 1968 book. I read somewhere that that concept was kicking around in the sequel and it was enough to put me off paying money to see it.

  11. Jbapista says:

    I saw it. The visuals are incredible, the story is complex and not as clever as it thinks it is, and all the female roles are one-dimensional: they advance the plot, but the film is all about the men. Which is a little boring.

  12. Nic919 says:

    I saw it and liked it although I tend to like sci fi films. There were women with strong roles in the film but outside of Robin Wright none of the women were well known. Leto is only in the film minimally so it is tolerable.

    But I agree the length of the film is likely an issue. It is almost three hours and could have been shortened a bit.

  13. Shijel says:

    To be honest it was a beautiful, beautiful movie, but I went to my country’s and town’s opening night, and I was so surprised how empty the cinema was. I also noticed that the movie’s a great deal about men whereas all the women are pretty flat and serve to just advance men’s stories, but it’s not like I really cared about any of the characters overly. I was just there for the amazing soundtrack, sound production and visuals.

    I think I’m still a bit stunned and it’s been three days.

    I didn’t really feel that it was as long as it was, but then I’m a huge fan of slow burns, movies that tick on at a glacial pace while giving me excellent cinematography. I can even forgive the thin plot and man pain.

  14. OG Cleo says:

    I’ve been disappointed by all the Oscar-hype movies, so far (except “Wind River”, which was almost perfect). “Battle of the Sexes” was weirdly paced (the whole movie felt like falling action), unfocused, and the writing was cringey.

    And as a fan of “Blade Runner OG” I was really excited for this, and the first 30 mins were great IMO. And the cinematography was breathtaking the whole way through. But it was sooooo plodding. The original was slow, but the editing and writing made it feel faster. “2049” was so far up its own *ss, especially any scene with Jared Leto. The writing was boring and, in spite of a lot of interesting lady characters, there was so much unnecessary, weird female objectification that felt totally out of place, especially since the original didn’t have (hardly). Also, this is the future LA but there are no POC in your entire main cast? Sure. And don’t get me started on how Sean Young totally got the shaft in this movie.

    • Bladerunnernot says:

      — “2049″ was so far up its own *ss, especially any scene with Jared Leto.
      — there was so much unnecessary, weird female objectification that felt totally out of place
      — this is the future LA but there are no POC in your entire main cast?
      — And don’t get me started on how Sean Young totally got the shaft in this movie.

      Agree with you 100% esp on these points.

  15. Jerusha says:

    I’ll be seeing it as soon as my 14 yo grandson watches the original BR. Gotta see that first. I saw Blade Runner the first week it came out. Loved it, thought it was great. Read the reviews afterward and was surprised that so many were mixed or negative. Sometimes it just takes time.

  16. Heatheradair says:

    I’ll give it this (as a few people mentioned): while the previews sure didn’t show it, most of the movie was moved along by badass women. The primary villain: female. Robin Wright: amazing as LAPD chief. Cyber-girlfriend: probably the of of the most complex “AI/VR/Android”-type creation in any film I’ve seen. So women really carried the story, but the previews definitely leaned on the couple of dudes with the least screen time (Jared Leto really had only two scenes, and Harrison Ford only popped up for the last 45 mins or so).

  17. Rae says:

    Beautiful movie, but dull.

    The stereotyping of women, including K’s 1950s style hologram girlfriend, made me uncomfortable.

    I’ve still no idea what the purpose of Jared Leto’s character was.

  18. AngelaH says:

    I thought it looked interesting but I won’t give any money to support Jared Leto.

    • Mia4s says:

      Hilariously he’s once again been all over promotion (like Suicide Squad) and again has about seven minutes of screen time. He’s pointless. His character could have been played by anyone. He’s so lame. 😂

      Gosling was good for what the character was I’ll give him that. Ford was a strong cameo but that’s it. So bizarre.

    • Candion says:

      A lot of commenters on other sites agree with you. Myself included. Jared’s done.

  19. lucy2 says:

    I’ll probably go see it at some point, but this past weekend was like extended summer here in the northeast, and there were about a million different festivals and activities to go to, so the movies were low on my list.

  20. trh says:

    I watched Blade Runner 2049 at the cinema over the weekend because I wanted to enjoy the visuals on a large screen. Got my money’s worth as far as that goes. I’m a big fan of the original so I’ll keep my creative and thematic issues to myself, but I do want to share some spoiler-free feedback.

    Blade Runner 2049 contains at least three scenes of gratuitous violence toward women that caused me to look away from the screen. Although there are several roles played by women, they are all stock characters without real development. (The fact that these action figures are played by women shouldn’t be mistaken for strong cinematic portrayal of women.) There is a weakness in the story such that too many characters vie for too few lines. And a few characters are given pages of exposition to recite for no good reason. The production aesthetic manages to show a lot of stylized images of breasts. Also there is a love scene that could have been cut, but apparently they spent a lot of money on it.

    The film is too long. The sound editing is poor, which is to say, it is very loud at times.

    Disclaimer: I’m so old, I saw the original on laser disc.

    • Chaine says:

      “The fact that these action figures are played by women shouldn’t be mistaken for strong cinematic portrayal of women.“—-Love, Love, Love this point, going to steal it for later use!

    • Katie M says:

      I didn’t think the “memory maker” was a stock character? I thought she was really interesting. Same with Robin Wright.

      • trh says:

        Yes, the “memory maker” is a stock character — the distracted/absorbed genius/geppetto. Robin Wright is a film noir boss character, analogous to Capt. Bryant in the original.

        The story might have developed them a little more over the course of 164 minutes.

  21. Swan Lake says:

    Neither Jared Leto nor Ryan Gosling tempts me to spend my hard-earned money.

  22. Lo says:

    I saw this opening night and LOVED it. One of the best films I’ve seen in some time. Visually stunning, solid story, I wasn’t disappointed at all. To each their own.

  23. Sage says:

    I can’t be bothered anymore to see theatrical releases on opening weekend. I will see BR2049 in the theater, but not until Thor is released.

  24. Minime @ says:

    I would never watch this kind of movie…. But the director is just one of the best in the world, Denis Villeneuve. So I’m pretty much looking forward to watch it. And if anyone is looking for movies with powerful multi layered female characters, watch some of the first movies from this guy, you won’t regret it!!

  25. vesper nite says:

    Lets face it, some of us are still mad about LA LA Land and just aren’t ready to love Ryan again. I certainly haven’t forgiven Emma Stone or Charlotte Johanssen for their transgressions in the past few years. So sorry Ryan, you can’t just “Hey girl” yourself back in to the public’s good graces.

    • Bug says:

      Ha! True!
      Plus, since he started a family (which is a beautiful thing, for his life) I usually get an impression of him as coming out a bit stiff and off-the-vibe in interviews and promotions. He used to be so funny and relaxed. But maybe it’s just normal, he was young, a sex symbol and having the time of his life and now he has other concerns.

  26. jferber says:

    I don’t like Harrison Ford and wouldn’t see him in anything.

  27. Americano says:

    I can think of many things wrong with this film, but here’s one that stood out to me. This was a film set in a future LA with lots of Asian themes: languages, signs, clothes, food etc. Yet, not an Asian in sight. I’m not talking about main cast. I’m talking about extras. I started trying to spot one after a while. I think I read on Twitter that someone saw one or maybe two in the entire film. Even the original Blade Runner made in 1982 had the common sense to have Asian extras and make it a believable world. I just couldn’t buy into this world that Villeneuve had created because it was so ridiculous.

    • Katie M says:

      This might be just me, but I thought that was part of the dystopia?

      They’ve bred this race of servants and are doing crazy genetic engineering. So they live in this sad, dystopian world that’s very conformist and very regulated, with only one race really allowed.

      • Americano says:

        I’m not talking about just replicants though. It was just hard to buy into Villeneuve’s dystopia for the reasons stated in my OP. For example, if you’re going to have a city where even the LAPD’s crime scene material is written in both English and Japanese, I have to assume there are many Japanese living in this city. So, where the heck were they all? Did they all just hide whenever K came around? Villeneuve wanted the cyberpunk look that urban Asian cities can give you, but then… no Asians?

      • trh says:

        It looks as though they forgot to hire extras. Just like they forgot to buy a truckload of grubs for the first act.

  28. msd says:

    I’m a lady and I showed up because I’m a sci-fi nerd. I was surprised how prominent the female characters were compared to the men (apart from Gosling) – the trailer didn’t sell that at all. Most of the women got a significant amount of screen time.

    Frankly, I thought the main problem with the film was that it was waaaaay too long. There simply wasn’t enough story to sustain the length. There also wasn’t enough character development; this reduced both the men and women to ‘types’. And I’m not sure it really had much to say, in the end, which was disappointing. It looked fantastic – Villeneuve is a brilliant stylist – but that wasn’t enough for me.

  29. Deeanna says:

    It was just okay. Not enough story for the length of this. Robin Wright is always fantastic. Ryan Gosling is good. Harrison Ford needs to avoid the action genre from now on.

  30. Bladerunnernot says:

    So disappointed as I went to see this as a big SF lover and after reading the rave reviews. The movie looked incredible, no doubt about it (but some totally gratuitous sexualised female visuals). The story, character development, and ideas were thin, and you need good ideas for SF to work. They “styled” scenes and made the actors sprout weird gibberish that was meant to sound futuristic and profound, rather than getting a better scriptwriter to work on real-sounding language and character development.

    The underlying idea about replicants being equal/like humans and therefore having equivalent rights in society was not explored properly. For example there was no background on how they’re made (genetic engineering or what?) except a very superficial scene (that felt totally staged and superficial) where a new model drops down from a big plastic sheet from the ceiling, as the trailers show. Jared’s character, in fact, everyone’s character, had little depth or back history, except for Ryan’s with his memory. Good actors all around but a very pretty movie with no depth. The villains were also cardboard cutouts. I’d wait for streaming.

  31. A.Key says:

    The movie is absolutely brilliant and this 30-year-old woman is very glad to have seen it.

  32. Veronica says:

    Women influenced the sale here, but I suspect it’s a bit of a generation disconnect, too. Thirty years is just long enough for legacy films to potentially fall outside the public interest in a returning sequel.

  33. ash says:

    the movie seemed white-tastic as apparently they only have be in the future not WOC or MOC so…yea it was a no for me