All studios want nowadays is for their films to launch a franchise, to the point where the cinematic universe is sometimes being created before the first movie. However, it looks like Blade Runner 2049 has no intention of following suit—which could be a good thing, seeing as it may not get the chance to. Of course, it’s also annoying, since there were a lot of threads introduced but not explored in the movie.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Blade Runner 2049 co-writer Michael Green shared how there was no talk of further sequel or spinoffs while they were building the follow-up to the iconic 1982 scifi film Blade Runner. Unlike films like 2017's The Mummy reboot, which was solely designed to launch Universal’s Dark Universe, there were no reportedly no plans beyond Blade Runner: 2049 to keep the story going.
“At no point in the creation of this story or script did anyone talk about spin-offs or how might things continue. It was always: ‘What’s our story?’ And make sure you have a story that is worth the title,” Green said.
Which is interesting, because Blade Runner 2049 definitely has things in it that could launch other movies. Characters are introduced, talk about huge things they’re involved in that we barely see, and then exit the movie again. And at least one big antagonist makes it to the end of the film perfectly alive and with all their resources intact. All those little things were apparently meant to be left dangling in the audience’s mind.
Green also mentioned what he thinks the lesson of the major modern franchises actually is. The flagships of them would have to be Marvel and DC, although the latter has struggled with its own and is reportedly backing away from managing a cohesive universe. However, Green said Marvel is actually an inspiration toward building a universe well, by making a good film first and a piece of sequel bait second. This does feel a little contradictory, considering every film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is crafted to lead into another one, even when it’s at the expense of the story (like with The Avengers: Age of Ultron).
So many studios and property rights holders have seen the success of Marvel, which we all adore and wonder how to replicate it. For me, the lesson of Marvel is: you don’t begin by building a universe. You begin by telling a story worth telling. And if it is a great story directed well and performed brilliantly and stays with people, it will become the black hole around which a galaxy can form. If you begin by trying to build the universe before creating a film worth watching, well, there be dragons.
In any case, it’s possible Blade Runner 2049 wouldn’t even get the chance to launch its own MCU, whether or not it actually wanted to. The film underperformed in its opening weekend, bringing in about $31-million in North America instead of the expected $50-million. It’s doing better overseas, and there are hopes it could pull an Arrival and bring in more audiences through word of mouth. But considering the film cost about $150-million to make, and it’s failing to draw younger people and women, this seems like a unicorn dream.