Will Strong Reviews, Ryan Gosling Push Sequel to Success? – Variety

One of the most memorable moments at this year’s CinemaCon came on opening night when Sony Motion Picture Group chairman Tom Rothman debuted footage for “Blade Runner 2049” and said, “Netflix, my ass.”

Six months later, domestic distributor Warner Bros., international distributor Sony and production company Alcon Entertainment are about to find out whether the Denis Villeneuve-directed sequel to Ridley Scott’s iconic 1982 original has what it takes to get filmgoers off the couch.

It’s starting to look promising for the sequel, which opens Oct. 6 and stars Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford reprising his Rick Deckard character from the 1982 film. Sony co-financed the production with Alcon Entertainment, while Warner Bros. handles the domestic rollout through its longstanding output deal with Alcon.

It’s highly beneficial that the original is held in such high regard, Rothman says, but adds that “Blade Runner 2049” is being pitched very much on its own, rather than as a sequel. That means the distributors aren’t relying on just the fanbase of the original film, but banking on names like Villeneuve and Gosling to interest younger audiences.

Rothman is gratified by the strong early reaction. If it performs well with audiences it would help Sony continue the momentum of recent box office hits “Baby Driver” and “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” The studio has had years of commercial disappointments and misses such as “Passengers,” “Inferno,” and “The Brothers Grimsby,” but is starting to turn things around.

At a time when big budget films have to battle for filmgoers’ attention, Rothman explains why he thinks “Blade Runner 2049” will entice filmgoers.

“Denis is a humanist, so the film is both epic and very personal, which is difficult to do,” he said. “And it’s not set in space – it’s right here in Los Angeles.”

Loaded with special effects, the budget is estimated at $150 million — so strong…

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