24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Blade Runner

How Ridley Scott came to direct the new 'Blade Runner'

August 18, 2011 | 12:56 pm

Alcon Entertainment producer Andrew Kosove knew how badly he wanted  Ridley Scott to return for a new "Blade Runner." He just had no idea if  he could land him.

"We had a few Plan Bs. But we were really focusing on Plan A, which was Ridley," Kosove said Thursday morning, shortly after his company announced that Scott had agreed to take the reins on a follow-up to his 1982 cult classic.

Here's how it went down. As Kosove and his partners were locking down rights to the movie about replicants in 2019 Los Angeles along with the Philip K. Dick novel on which it was based, they called an executive at Scott Free, Ridley and Tony Scott's production company. The Alcon people simply wanted to see if Ridley would sit down with them.

The filmmaker agreed, and shortly after the rights deal closed in March, Kosove and his partner Broderick Johnson flew to London to meet with the director.

Over the course of one meeting, they hashed out how a new film would look, how it could avoid seeming too similar to the many movies that have since paid homage to the original, and how different the new film should be from the original itself. They eventually decided it should stand as separately as possible.

"Everything Ridley does as a filmmaker is fresh," Kosove said. "I believe he sees an opportunity to create something that’s wholly original from the first 'Blade Runner.' "

Scott, Kosove and Johnson left that meeting with a handshake deal, and then the lawyers and agents jumped in to work out the details.

The next step now is for Scott to meet with writers, and for he and the producers to agree on which scribe they should hire. Kosove intimated that hire could happen in a matter of months if not weeks.

And how quickly can we expect a film?

The new movie will sit on a timetable that's fast by big-budget Hollywood standards but perhaps slow for a hungry film fan. The soonest Kosove could see the movie beginning shooting is early 2013 -- it would take at least 18 months to hire a writer, get a script in working order under Scott's guidance, cast the film and move into production.

Scott, who recently finished editing his new movie "Prometheus," could, in that 18-month period, direct one of several other movies he has in development and then return to shoot the new "Blade Runner," or he could make "Blade Runner" his next movie.

Either way, that means a new "Blade Runner" wouldn't be in theaters until 2014 at the earliest.

What shape that film will take remains a question:  It could be either a sequel, a prequel, or even an inspired-by type of picture a la "Prometheus," which is related to but not closely affiliated with Scott's 1979 science-fiction hit "Alien."

One element that likely won't be in the new "Blade Runner" is Harrison Ford, who in the original played the lead, retired LAPD officer Rick Deckard.

"In no way do I speak for Ridley Scott," Kosove said. "But if you're asking me will this movie have anything to do with Harrison Ford, the answer is no. This is a total reinvention, and in my mind that means doing everything fresh, including casting."

Kosove said that he realizes that working on a title that's so beloved is a double-edged sword; it means he's fighting to win over fans loyal to the original. That's one reason, he says, he's happy to have landed Scott.

"When we made the first announcement there was a lot of skepticism, understandably. And now with Ridley coming back there's a greater level of comfort," Kosove said. "And once we have the writer, I think fans will feel even more comfortable."

He added, "We want people to know that we're very serious about doing this in an artistic way. This isn't just commercial fodder."

--Steven Zeitchik



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Photo. "Blade Runner." Credit: Warner Bros.

With Ridley Scott, new 'Blade Runner' gets a credibility stamp

August 18, 2011 | 10:09 am


When the Hollywood production company Alcon Entertainment acquired rights to the "Blade Runner" property back in March, its partners told 24 Frames that they'd love to have original director Ridley Scott pick up where he left off. The idea of the original director helming either a prequel or a sequel, Alcon principal Andrew Kosove said, "is something we think would be wonderful."

Now Alcon appears to have landed its man.

Reports surfaced this morning on the trade website Deadline, later confirmed by Alcon, that Scott will indeed develop the project as a director.  A finished film is still a long way from coming to the multiplex; no screenwriters have even been hired. But the Scott news means that the movie will have a continuity and a credibility it wouldn't have had with pretty much anyone else.

 The move does runs counter to a Hollywood mini-trend in which a young director who grew up with a 1980s movie puts his own spin on it — witness Joseph Kosinski and "Tron: Legacy" last year. But Scott, for his part, has been rummaging through his own august canon, recently directing the "Alien"-related follow-up, "Prometheus," which comes to theaters in June.

As part of its March deal for “Blade Runner,” Alcon can make either a prequel or a sequel — it definitively won't be a remake — to the 1982 cult classic, also acquiring the right to build off scenes in the original film as well as passages from Philip K. Dick's source novel, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"

In the original film, "replicants" (robots that are virtually indistinguishable from humans) return illegally to a dystopian Los Angeles, with Harrison Ford's Rick Deckard chasing down said replicants. The move was a box-office underperformer but found a second life on television and home video, particularly as a dystopian aesthetic became more cultural prominent.

Alcon principals believe that the three intervening decades have only made the property more ripe for a revisit.

"The 'Blade Runner' lore is kind of irresistible," Kosove told 24 Frames in March. "And the extraordinary pace of technological advancement since the movie came out means that there are a lot of opportunities to do something fresh."

More shortly.


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— Steven Zeitchik


Photo. Harrison Ford in "Blade Runner." Credit: Warner Bros.

Producers of new 'Blade Runner' movie: Here's what we can do with our film (oh, and we'd love to bring back Ridley Scott)

March 2, 2011 |  8:04 pm


As Ridley Scott shoots "Prometheus," the don't-call-it-an-Alien-prequel, another Scott classic could be making its way to the big screen. The producers behind "The Book of Eli" and "Insomnia" announced this afternoon they were putting the finishing touches on a deal to acquire the rights to Scott's dystopian classic "Blade Runner."

The company, Alcon Entertainment, is acquiring rights that will allow them to make a movie with elements from both Scott's 1982 movie and the Phillip K. Dick novel "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" on which it's based.

The company isn't buying remake rights — in fact, co-founder Broderick Johnson says "we never would want to remake it — but they do think there's a  rich vein of material for a prequel or sequel, which they will be entitled to make. (They'd also be allowed to build off scenes from the original.)

"The 'Blade Runner' lore is kind of irresistible," Alcon co-founder Andrew Kosove told 24 Frames from Atlanta, where he and Johnson are on the set of their Queen Latifah comedy "Joyful Noise." "And the extraordinary pace of technological advancement since the movie came out means that there are a lot of opportunities to do something fresh."

A story of "replicants" (robots that are indistinguishable from humans) who return illegally to a dystopian Los Angeles, the Harrison Ford-Sean Young original mines neo-noir conventions and also explores religious themes, while Ford's Rick Deckard chases down said replicants.

Although the movie was not a commercial success upon release, it became an enduring hit on television and home video, and fans are likely to find themselves both intensely curious about a new film while taking very seriously any attempt to tinker with it.

Kosove and Johnson say they're aware of that affection and don't treat it lightly. "The risk is not just getting a movie made but coming up with a story that really justifies coming back one to one of the great science-fiction stories," Kosove, who with Johnason is producing the movie with original co-executive producer Bud Yorkin, said.

There may be more immediate issues, though.

The original was set in 2019, a year that seemed very far away in 1982 but that seems pretty close now. A prequel wouldn't allow for a setting too many years beyond our own. (The producers say they're not concerned because technology changes quickly and anyway, Johnson says, this would be set in an alternative universe.)

Still, filling in parts of the back story of a tale we already know isn't easy, as George Lucas could tell you.

As for a sequel, the trick, the pair say, would be to find new elements that are neither too close to or too far from the story laid out in the original.

There's also the question of whether the first film has become too influential for its own good.

"A lot of filmmakers have borrowed from 'Blade Runner' in the intervening years, and we want to make sure we don't look like we're borrowing from the movies that borrowed from it," Kosove said. "Coming up with something original on our part is a real threshold issue." He added: "We know there are tremendous challenges here."

Although Alcon has financing for their films and a deal to distribute its pictures through Warner Bros, the process is still early and tenative; there is, at this point, no screenwriter or director. And as for the elephant — or director — in the room?   "We haven't met Ridley," Kosove said. "but the thought of re-engaging with his artistic vision is very exciting, and [him directing] is something we think would be wonderful."

It's hard to avoid thoughts of "Tron," another techno-themed 1982 movie that also wasn't a hit in its time. For all their differences, both movies anticipated social and technological changes, but only came to be appreciated for it later.

Of course, from a commercial standpoint a sequel to that one worked out pretty well.


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— Steven Zeitchik


Photo: A scene from "Blade Runner: The Final Cut." Credit: Warner Bros.



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