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'Blade Runner 2049' Pulls in Older Guys but Few Others

According to studio estimates, "2049" grossed $31.5 million, a poor start for a movie that cost at least $150 million to make.
Image: Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling
Harrison Ford, left, and Ryan Gosling promote 'Blade Runner 2049' in London on Sept. 21.Joel Ryan

NEW YORK — "Blade Runner 2049" had the pedigree, the stars and the stellar reviews. But even though the highly touted sequel had seemingly everything going for it, something didn't click with audiences.

The big-budget, handsomely crafted sequel to the 1982 science fiction classic opened surprisingly weakly at the North American box office. According to studio estimates Sunday, "2049" grossed $31.5 million, a poor start for a movie that cost at least $150 million to make.

The problem "Blade runner 2049" ran into is clear from opening-weekend data. The audience was overwhelmingly male (71 percent) and over the age of 25 (86 percent). The movie, starring Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford, simply failed to pull in moviegoers beyond fans of the 1982 original.

Harrison Ford, left, and Ryan Gosling promote 'Blade Runner 2049' in London on Sept. 21.Joel Ryan

The opening was a blow most of all to Alcon Entertainment, the production company that split the film's cost with Sony Pictures. It seemingly did everything right, turning in a glowingly reviewed film, directed by the sought-after Denis Villeneuve ("Arrival") and produced by Ridley Scott (who directed the original). Audiences liked the movie, too, giving it an A- rating on CinemaScore.

Alcon representatives didn't respond to messages requesting comment on Sunday.

"I'm disappointed we didn't have a larger result this weekend on behalf of the owners of the film, Alcon," said Jeff Goldstein, president of domestic distribution for Warner Bros., which released the original and distributed the followup domestically. "We had bigger expectations for the weekend. The tracking and the advance sales indicated that there would be a stronger number."

The Kate Winslet-Idris Elba adventure romance "The Mountain Between Us" made it debut in second place, with $10.1 million. The 20th Century Fox film, which cost $35 million to make, chronicles the budding affection between two strangers whose charter plane crash-lands in the mountains.

The horror hit "It" followed in third place, with $9.7 million in its fifth week. The Stephen King adaptation has made $603.7 million worldwide.

"My Little Pony: The Movie" opened with $8.8 million for Lionsgate. But even it managed broader gender appeal than "Blade Runner 2049." It drew a 59 percent female audience.

But most were wondering what went wrong with "Blade Runner 2049." Working against it was a long 163-minute runtime. (Villeneuve tried to lessen the blow by promoting the credit-less runtime of 152 minutes.) Alcon took the lead on the marketing, which went to great lengths to keep much of the film mysterious.

"It's an intellectually charged, apocalyptic sci-fi story. It's not a 'Close Encounters.' It's not 'Star Wars.' It's a challenging film. To me, those are the best type of films," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore. "But does it make it the most commercial? No."

"It was creatively and thematically perfectly executed," Dergarabedian said. "But it didn't play to the numbers everyone thought."

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers also are included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

  1. "Blade Runner 2049," $31.5 million ($50.2 million international).
  2. "The Mountain Between Us," $10.1 million ($3.6 million international).
  3. "It," $9.7 million.
  4. "My Little Pony: The Movie," $8.8 million ($3.8 million international).
  5. "Kingsman: The Golden Circle," $8.1 million ($25.5 million international).
  6. "American Made," $8.1 million ($1.8 million international).
  7. "The Lego Ninjago Movie," $6.8 million ($6.9 million international).
  8. "Victoria & Abdul," $4.1 million ($3 million international).
  9. "Flatliners," $3.8 million ($1.5 million international.)
  10. "Battle of the Sexes," $2.4 million.