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Blade Runner 2049 flops on opening night, despite strong reviews

Good reviews aren’t everything

Ryan Gosling looks across a crowded room in Blade Runner 2049 Warner Bros.

Blade Runner 2049 has earned critical praise, but struggled to find an audience on its opening night. The film brought in only $12.7 million domestically on Friday, with an estimated weekend performance in the mid to low $30 million range.

This is far below what the film was expected to bring in. “Industry expectations are for a $100 million debut globally, with approximately 50 percent of that coming from the domestic opening as industry forecasts range from $45-55 million,” Box Office Mojo reported.

Good word of mouth could help the film build as time goes on, and there’s a slight possibility Blade Runner 2049 could find an audience internationally, but it’s likely things will remain bleak at American theaters for the near future.

The original Blade Runner was also seen as a box office failure, bringing in only $32.8 million during its initial run. It took audiences and critics years to warm up to the film, and its visual influence on science fiction and video games always outstripped the size of its audience. While most people know Blade Runner, far fewer ever paid to see it.

Updating a film that’s seen as a masterpiece by aging fans while stressing mystery and secrecy during promotion was a risky strategy. Blade Runner 2049’s trailers don’t give many clues to its plot, nor do they discuss the philosophical questions of the original. There’s no hook for modern audiences, outside of being a sequel for a movie your parents might have liked.

The film’s nature makes it hard to even talk about. “It’s impossible to discuss any of the plot without giving away far too much,” our review stated. “There’s a spoiler tucked into every conversation, poking out from every angle.” While it’s a film that looks amazing on a big screen, Blade Runner 2049’s nearly three hour running time and brooding pace may have turned off a mainstream audience. It’s also rated R, which limits the ability of younger audience to watch at all all.

All that being said, we blame Jared Leto.

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