“Blade Runner 2049” is going to struggle to make it past the $100 million mark at the domestic box office, hardly the response Warner Brothers was looking for given the film’s estimated $300 million production and marketing budget. In a way, the odds were always against “2049” given that its predecessor was also a financial disappointment and only went on to become a cult classic with a very specific demographic of moviegoers. “Blade Runner” is no multi-generational favorite a la films like “Star Wars” or “Jurassic Park.”
But while the sequel is a box office dud, it’s unquestionably a huge step in the right direction for studio filmmaking.
In a blockbuster age dominated by comic book fare and endless cash-grabbing sequels, it has become increasingly rare to see a big-budget studio film driven not by mind-numbing spectacle or the demands of universe-building but by an auteur’s singular vision. “2049” lacks the epic action set pieces that define Marvel movies, but it has a kind of patience and cerebral edge any superhero movie wouldn’t dare touch. The film has a gun fight or two, but it’s largely made up of characters reflecting on their own shifting perceptions of what it means to be human.