Here at Wonderful Cinema we tend to avoid writing about current blockbusters because, let’s face it, who needs another review!
We are more about finding those hidden gems you might not have heard of…
Sometimes, however, something big and expensive comes along which is so magnificent that we just must – we absolutely have to – add our voice to the chorus.
History of the Blockbuster
The term ‘blockbuster’ became commonplace following the massive success of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws in 1975. Until then, the American press and studios referred to a movie as a ‘blockbuster’ only if it became a big financial hit. Following Jaws, the definition morphed into a type of genre which represented a significant cultural event, whereby a ‘blockbuster’ was not only a financial success but also something that was thoroughly talked about. Films such as Star Wars (1977), E.T. (1982), Jurassic Park (1993) and Titanic (1997) spring to mind.
Jaws was a huge hit, taking $200 million in ticket sales (almost $1 billion adjusted to current prices), and Star Wars was even more profitable. This proved a watershed moment for the major Hollywood studios and suddenly every high-level exec wanted a ‘Summer Blockbuster’ hit. The majors started throwing more and more money at projects to try and emulate such successes. Huge marketing budgets became the norm, as did ‘saturation booking’, the strategy of opening new movies simultaneously in hundreds of cinemas across the country. With this mindset change in the American film industry, so the definition of ‘blockbuster’ also changed to mean a big-budget production aimed towards mass markets.
Nowadays ‘blockbuster’ is an amalgamation of the definitions mentioned above and can be used to describe a film with a huge budget, a film that has become a big hit, and an ‘event film’ such as Avatar (2009).
Blade Runner 2049
Blade Runner 2049 is a film of immense beauty and strong narrative, and it is packed with superb actors delivering their fascinating character’s lines wonderfully.
It is a film that can stand alone, without any prior knowledge of the original Blade Runner (1982). Unless you are allergic to science fiction, this is a film you must see. And, you should hurry, because this is a movie begging to be seen in a cinema. The incredibly powerful soundtrack alone warrants this treatment. And a word of warning: don’t watch the 3D version. The film’s cinematographer, Roger Deakins (surely one of the finest alive), warns that the incredible colour palette is diluted quite drastically in 3D. I have seen both versions and I can confirm this. Plus, the film’s visuals in no way lend themselves to 3D, although I am sure many of you will be surprised to here this.
Blade Runner 2049 has, unfortunately, been something of a box office flop, which is something the original film also suffered. This is probably because, considering the $150-$185 million production budget, the film can be considered a niche market product, aimed at cinephiles. The film has up until now taken $260 million in ticket sales worldwide, but film studios calculate on a film doubling its budget in sales for it to be considered a success.
Although Blade Runner 2049 has not been a box office success, we can still refer to it as a blockbuster due to its huge budget and because it is a significant cultural event.
Wonderful Cinema strongly recommends you to not ruin the impact the director meticulously planned for you by watching trailers or reading spoilers. For those of you who cannot resist:
You can find more information on this American film on Wikipedia, IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes.
Title: Blade Runner 2049
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Year, Country, Language: 2017, USA, English
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Jared Leto (click here for full cast)
Screenplay: Hampton Fancher, Michael Green
Based on: Characters from Philip K. Dick’s novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)
Cinematography: Roger Deakins
Editing: Joe Walker
Score: Hans Zimmer, Benjamin Wallfisch
I saw Blade Runner 2049 while fatigued and jet-lagged after returning from an overseas vacation. I remember it more like a dream than as a movie — and that might be the right way to view it. I’ll catch it again on streaming to see what I missed or didn’t understand, but for now I remember it as a brilliantly impressionistic, gorgeously filmed nightmare. I’m not sure I completely followed the story, but that didn’t stop it from being powerful.
How funny, Christopher. I’m a little bit jealous! What a great way to see the film. I think I’ll have to find myself some weed and try for the same experience!
Actually, it is a detailed and coherent story, so I do urge you to rewatch.
I was very impressed by Villeneuve’s previous film, Sicario, a stylish suspense thriller where you never really knew who the good guys and bad guys were. Villeneuve resists the standard action movie sensibility. He plays with mood and character in a way that’s atypical of blockbuster films, which is a good sign for the future of action films in general and Villeneuve’s films in particular. I look forward to whatever he does next.
Despite being jet-lagged and half asleep, I did follow the story in Blade Runner 2049 well enough to remember the basic arc, from the first discovery to the final reveal. It’s all the little details in between that I’m hazy on. 😉
Yes, I enjoyed Villeneuve’s Sicario. Prisoners and Enemy are also very good. I didn’t enjoy Arrival so much but I’ll need to watch it again; maybe, whilst watching it, I was ‘hazy’ in a self-inflicted way. 😉
I’m struggling with this new film. The original Blade Runner is my current number one (English language) film of all time, and it works for me on so many levels, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since I first watched it. I have three versions on DVD, and still can’t decide which I like best.
Because of that, I almost don’t want to see this sequel. I know that sounds crazy, but there you go…
Cheers mate, Pete.
I know what you mean, Pete.
I don’t have such an illustrious example, but I had to force myself to watch Dumb and Dumber To (2014), the sequel to my favourite comedy of all time, the 1994 original. I couldn’t imagine it could live up to expectations and I worried that, if dire, it would ruin the original for me. On the one hand, I wasn’t wrong: the sequel is an absolute pile of shit, excuse my French. But I will never watch it again and it will soon be banished from my memory, whilst the original will still have me rolling around in stitches until the day I roll of the sofa and am killed by the fall.
I am putting an arm around your shoulders, my friend, and I am telling you that the original Blade Runner is also one of my quintissential sci-fi films – together with Alien (1979) – and rather than being disappointed with the sequel, I am in awe of the fantastic movie they have made. And, if you don’t like it, I doubt very much it could spoil your love for the original. After all, Pete, you possess 3 versions with alternate endings of Blade Runner, and that in itself doesn’t diminish your enjoyment. 🙂
Sage advice, old friend. If it is truly such a stand-alone, then I will gird my loins and get on with watching it! 🙂 And don’t apologise for ‘Pile of shit’. It is one of my most-used phrases.
(Dumb and Dumber though? Phew…)
Yes, it fits with my own ridiculous sense of humour, so it hits all the right buttons. I know you either love it or hate it. Nothing has ever made me laugh more in my life!
So, Pete, did you ever bite the bullet and watch the new Blade Runner?
Five minutes in I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. Great film in my opinion.
I had exactly the same reaction, Jim. So much better than I expected them to manage. All my worries blown out of the water!
I could not agree with you more. For me this has so far been the film of the year, and with the year now being pretty much over, it will probably stay that way as well. Terrific post 😊
Many thanks, Michel, for the kind words!
Love the blog. I am a failed actress therefore a film buff by default. I love the original Blade Runner. It was kinda steampunk before it was cool and even now it doesn’t feel super dated (except for the score. Totally 80s)
That is an awefully negative phrase to be carrying around with you. I would tell people (and yourself) something like, “I tried my hand at acting but it wasn’t for me”.
You know, I went to film school and they told me I had a great face for radio. 😦
Yes well…self deprecation being my thing. But thank you
Beaitiful movie, but I would call it a modern anti-blockbuster
Why would you call it that, Mr. Bobinsky?
By the way, I’ve just started to read the novel Coraline was based on!
Well, Shinky, it doesn’t have any qualities that a modern blockbuster must have. It’s slow, really slow and the plot moves slower than a snail crossing the road. The aren’t many bombastic ultra-action scenes so typical for Marvel movies. It’s may be a hard watch for those who haven’t watched the original film. Many scenes are absolutely minimal and made with few basic elements.
All these things made me absolutely love this movie. I am not sure whether it’s a masterpiece, but how many big movies with a budget like that and this minimal style were made in the last decade? Very little. But they also make me understand that a modern audience is not really into this stuff. Which is obviously a bad symptom.
Oh, and how is the novel? I adore the movie! 🙄😍
Yes, I do see what you mean about Blade Runner 2049 not following the blockbuster rules. I am amazed, actually, that Warner Bros./Sony were willing to risk that much money on it and that they didn’t edit the guts out of it. Kudos to the big studio, for once. It is a film that will only continue to grow in respectability.
I bought Neil Gaiman’s novella a couple of years ago but have been trying to erase the images of Coraline the movie before starting the read the book. I failed miserably! So I started reading it yesterday but I haven’t got far enough to comment. But I read somewhere that it is very frightening, so we will see…
It’s right. Considering that while Arrival and his other movies were successful but not commercially groundbreaking I was also amazed by that. But studios these days are trying to reboot almost everything they can, hoping to create new franchises…
I am looking forward to your comments 😊🤗
This is a wonderful piece that puts Blade Runner 2049 within the context of the blockbuster in an engaging manner. I thought that the sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 film resonates with the hermetically sealed innocence of a snow globe.
You can find out more by reading my review below:
If you find it to your like, then please comment and follow.