There has been much discussion about Ridley Scott’s 1982 science-fiction classic Blade Runner, its rocky production, its first release (which led to it being overshadowed by Steven Spielberg’s E.T.), and how it somehow found its way to being a cult classic and a highly regarded film of the genre.
So now, what could possibly be the reason – nearly 30 years after the classic’s release – would anyone try to continue or pre-date the story? And the original director, Ridley Scott, must be included in the debate.
On August 18, after years of rumors and discussions, Scott confirmed a new Blade Runner movie would be in the works, and he would be the director. Yet in the statement from Scott and the film’s producers, there was no information on whether or not the film would be a sequel or a film that pre-dates the events and characters of Los Angeles, 2019 A.D.
It’s true there are possibilities you could take with any continuation of the Blade Runner story. Even though the story’s original author Philip K. Dick (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) died in 1982, his story continued through author K.W. Jeter – with three official Blade Runner sequels. So there’s proof of the story going forward.
Yet if Scott and the film’s producers want to go beyond the Jeter novels, what could they possibly come up with for stories? If they decided to work out a sequel, what could the audience see? There might be the continuation of the love story between detective Rick Deckard and the replicant Rachael (with her possibly headed for expiration), or new off-world creations (could New York become its own entity, perhaps?), or a new villainous replicant who may try to expand their time on Earth to the detriment of the human race?
Then there’s always the prequel option – going back to seeing how Deckard became the “blade runner” he would become, or how the Tyrell Corporation came to be as the creative force of the replicants, or even how Los Angeles became the world film fans would recognize in the original film’s very opening.
Even with so many options to choose from for Scott and his crew, there’s still one feeling this Blade Runner fan feels: uneasiness. While it’s possible for a Blade Runner follow-up to inspire a new generation to seek out the original (if they don’t have any version of it on DVD already), it feels more like an attempt to cash in on the Blade Runner name. The original film became a cult classic, based on its great story, its timely effects and art direction, and its measurable impact on so many films and filmmakers.
Yet with a follow-up film, the original’s impact could be side-tracked or even diluted. The original Blade Runner film stands up so well on its own, it may be hard to imagine any follow-up film giving the characters and Dick’s original storyline any proper justice. Then again, no one will really know what this film’s impact will be – until Scott and his crew (including whoever decides to star) put together a film for release.
There would be no surprise if Blade Runner fans were divided by the recent news of a new film – some may be eager to see what the next chapter of the story would be, while others would probably argue that it should have been best to leave the original film alone. The original Blade Runner will always have a place in film history, and maybe until Scott puts together the film for the audience to see, maybe it’s best after all to not worry about the new work’s potential impact on a definitive classic of science-fiction.