Blade Runner 2049

Weekend Box Office: A Dulled Blade

It took 35 years to get a ‘Blade Runner’ sequel. Based on its opening box office, it may be another 35 years before we get another. While each of this weekend’s new movies arrived on the big screen with decent to excellent word of mouth, they all struggled to draw moviegoers.

Leading into the weekend, ‘Blade Runner 2049‘ was expected to open in the $50 million range. Taking $4 million from Thursday night previews, it looked like it might make even more. However, it appears that all the fans of the cult classic either showed up Thursday night or didn’t show up at all. ‘2049’ closed its opening weekend with $31.5 million, which delivers an especially painful blow considering the movie’s steep $150 million price tag. Although it’s an exception film and an entirely worthy sequel, ‘2049’ may be doomed to be the same financial failure that the original ‘Blade Runner’ was in its day. As is the new norm, if the movie has a chance of making money, it will depend on international audiences. ‘2049’ opened in 61% of the foreign markets and grossed $50.2 million. What should have been a $100+ million worldwide debut only amounted to $81.7 million.

The gap between ‘Blade Runner’ and the #2 movie was large, but I wouldn’t say there was a mountain between them. Fox’s romantic survival film ‘The Mountain Between Us‘ brought down $10.1 million. Taking into account its $35 million budget, this is also a weak start. Internationally, it made $3.6 million from 11 markets, which may also signal a stronger overseas performance.

Five-week-old ‘It‘ finished in third place with $9.6 million. The film’s domestic total of $304.9 million pushed it into a new bracket. With an overseas haul of $298.8 million, the movie’s worldwide draw is $603.7 million.

My Little Pony: The Movie‘ trotted into fourth place, below expectations with $8.8 million. It opened to an even less impressive $3.8 million in 49 international markets. No production budget has been announced, so it’s unclear as to how this $12.6 million debut plays out to Lionsgate.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle‘ rounded out the Top 5 with $8.1 million. Although the sequel started off by outpacing its predecessor, it’s now dragging behind. The $104 million ‘Golden Circle’ has grossed $79.9 million, while ‘The Secret Service’ was up to $85.8 million at this point in its run. Foreign box office totals are now at $173.6 million, giving the movie a worldwide total of $253.5 million.

The faith-based family film ‘The Stray‘ opened outside the Top 10 with brutally low returns. From 640 screens, it made $550,000 and a lousy per-screen average of $859. On the other end of the spectrum, A24’s ‘The Florida Project‘ had an excellent limited opening. From four locations, it claimed $153,324, for a per-screen average of $38,336. With number like that, you can expect to see the movie expand over the coming weeks.

Top 10:

1. ‘Blade Runner 2049’ (Warner Bros.) – $31,525,000

2. ‘The Mountain Between Us’ (Fox) – $10,100,000

3. ‘It’ (Warner Bros.) – $9,655,000

4. ‘My Little Pony: The Movie’ (Lionsgate) – $8,800,000

5. ‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ (Fox) – $8,100,000

6. ‘American Made’ (Universal) – $8,073,000

7. ‘The Lego Ninjago Movie’ (Warner Bros.) – $6,750,000

8. ‘Victoria and Abdul’ (Focus) – $4,142,000

9. ‘Flatliners’ (Sony) – $3,800,000

10. ‘Battle of the Sexes’ (Fox Searchlight) – $2,400,000


  1. Chris B

    Saw the ne BR on friday afternoon and loved it. We may never get another sequel but at least we have this one, I’m grateful for that at least.

  2. I’ll confess I stayed home. I want to see the sequel, but at nearly 3 hours (almost certainly 3 hours given how many commercials and trailers my cinema will slap onto the thing), I don’t have the time. I’ll wait for home video.

    So blame me, America. 😉

    • Wait, Shannon, what do you mean you don’t have the time? When you choose to go to the cinema, you expect it to be the main attraction of the evening. So what difference does a 2 or 3 hour runtime make? In any case, you’re going to spend time in a dark room for some time, right? Will you never go to the cinema again? I’m confused.

      • It’s a matter of scheduling. I rarely have a window unless I plan ahead. Most of my viewing these days is Netflix, Vudu, and review screeners. Next time I’ll be in a theater is probably for The Last Jedi.

        Other factors are at play too of course, not the least of which is the behavior of the typical movie crowd.

        • All these comments on cell phones and movie crowd behavior make me sad. You have my sympathies, as a film loving audience. Here in Belgium, people pay $12 and rarely if ever check their phone; Because, you know, they just spent $10 of their hard earned money to watch a film they wanna watch.

          • EM

            Where does the other $2 come from—a government handout?

            Julian, you describe observing a rational approach to moviegoing…yet I find (not necessarily in this one small field of activity) that irrationality is pandemic.

      • Whenever I have friends visit from other countries, their biggest complaint is that Americans are too busy. We are constantly on the go, and they have trouble scheduling meetings with people. A 3 hour runtime for an R rated movie during the fall is a quadrouple whammy – First you have a limited audience due to its R rating, you are going to have trouble finding babysitters to watch the kids, during the fall, you have tons of school activities going on, so people are not going to be able justify a 3 hour movie, then on top of all of that, the theater is not showing as many showings, so they won’t generate as much revenue. Yeah, I can see how an October release for a 3 hour R rated movie would perform poorly

  3. EM

    I wanted to go see the Blade Runner flick, but I’ve been a bit ill lately, and I was concerned that my coughing would be far too disruptive to the other patrons’ enjoyment of their cell phones (…er…) the movie.

    • Elizabeth

      I’ve seriously considered getting a cell phone jammer to take to the movies. I think they might be illegal to use in public, but I don’t know if anyone would be the wiser.

      • EM

        I think people on cell phones are indeed none the wiser. Be that as it may, I was only facetiously mentioning cell phones, as I’ve been largely spared the abuses occasionally reported at this site (at movie theaters, anyway). The rest of my post was sincere.

        • Elizabeth

          In recent months, I’ve had to sit through two movies where people nearby have spent large periods of time checking or using their smart phones. Once the trailers start, my phone is away until the credits roll.

          • I am usually at the primium dinner theaters or the large screen theaters. As such, I may have to deal with a waiter / waitress, but never people on their phones. At least in my area, the mentality of most people is “if I am spending that much on dinner and a movie, the phone is OFF!” The theaters also are very strict on their no-cellphone policies – they WILL ask you to leave – not only because you are disturbing those around you, but because of piracy concerns as well

    • Timcharger

      While the consideration of auditory interruptions of coughing is appreciated, frankly, the notion of not spreading disease is paramount. As much as I hate getting distracted by other patrons at the movies, I despise getting airborne infections more.

  4. Charles M

    I know people will bash modern audiences, but look, you don’t spend $150 million on an art film. That’s just silly.

    • Bolo

      Cyberpunk movies generally do poorly with American audiences, regardless of whether they’re artsypants or not. Earlier this year you had the live action ‘Ghost in the Shell’ do poorly and it was a generic action blockbuster superhero origins story. Before that you had stuff like ‘Judge Dredd’ and ‘Johnny Mnemonic’, which were also fairly straightforward action thrillers with big stars. And of course, there’s the original ‘Blade Runner’. I guess if you want to count ‘The Matrix’, that one was a hit, but it had none of the cyberpunk stuff with overpopulated cities saturated with busy tech, This look and feel just seems to be off-putting to American audiences.

      • While I can see how one might arrive at this conclusion, I don’t think the issue is the look and feel – I think the issue is how cerebral a movie is perceived to be. Most Americans like to shut their brains off when they go to the theater. I get this – you want to escape, forget about life for a while. Its why artsy films or ultra realistic films do poorly with American audiences. Famiily movies, fantasy and action are what does well with American audiences.

        Look at Dune – no busy tech, no overpopulated cities, no cyberpunk, but it was a very cerebral movie. Transformers is BOOM-Michael Bay-Splosions! JJ Abrams is ACTION! which is why the 3 new Star Trek movies did well. Matrix was advertised as an action movie (primarially), which is why it did well. Star Wars is not perceived to be cerebral, so it does well. Terminator is kind of a dystopian future, but it is perceived as an action movie, so it does well.

        So yeah, I don’t think its a look and feel thing, I think with Americans, the idea is “how much do I have to think to be able to enjoy this movie”

    • Timcharger

      “you don’t spend $150 million on an art film. That’s just silly.”

      Sooo… it’s better to spend $217 million on more Bayformers and more explosions. Nothing “bashes modern audiences” more than that fact.

      • Charles M

        Yes, because there’s a huge audience for that. There was no chance of this film smoking transformers type numbers. Should’ve made it for cheaper. Audiences who watch art films don’t care about how much of a budget a movie had.

        • James Mckinnon

          ” Audiences who watch art films don’t care about how much of a budget a movie had.”

          Huh? Sure we do, in the sense that it costs money to achieve some artful aesthetics. You can make the point that it was financially goofy to spend $150 million on an art film. Fine. But consumers of the film benefited regardless, assuming the dollars are visible on the screen.

        • Al

          No, Shannon. The official cost was $185 million. However, due to $35 million retrieved from rebates, the final figure is $150 million.

      • Timcharger

        We are talking about the sequel to Blade Runner. Not the sequel to an indie film with a shoestring budget.

        The original Blade Runner cost $28 million. 35 years later, budget going to >$150 million, calculating that would be… about a 5% annual inflation rate. That’s in the ballpark.

        Should films be made cheaper? Sure of course.

        But if your criticism of Blade Runner 2049, would ALSO find the original Blade Runner guilty of the same charge, then you would be back in 1982 saying…

        “You don’t spend $28 million on Blade Runner. That’s just silly!”

  5. Jon

    Saw it and it’s a solid, well made and overall pretty good sci-fi/noir movie. Shared some similarities with the original but it’s definitely it’s own beast.

    Shame that it’s not doing well. Although I suppose that fits given how well the original did in theaters.

  6. NJScorpio

    I’m not sure how anyone expected a Blade Runner sequel to light the box office on fire. The original film falls squarely in the category of films film lovers love. The fact that it got made, at all, is huge. It’s more likely to see a 10th Terminator movie than a 2nd follow up to a movie franchise that has been dormant for several decades. And you know what? That 10th Terminator movie might have made more at the box office.

    • Truth to be told, with the glowing reviews this movie got, I did expect half America to think: ‘WOW, I NEED TO SEE THIS!!!!’ and light the box office on fire. Or do people not listen to critics anymore? When Belgian reviewers gush and gush, I listen.

      • Honestly that doesn’t do much for me, either. The top rung of critics these days are really not harsh enough on the films they review. All those rave reviews got me into the theater for Wonder Woman and, honestly, it was pretty middling.

        “Rave” reviews these days seems to mean “it doesn’t suck” more than it does “it’s really good.”

        • Fair enough. We need more Roger Eberts, then. But what about our own excellent Phil Brown? He’s a good critic. When he says ‘4,5’ on a scale of ‘5’, don’t you all think: WE NEED TO SEE THIS? If it’s good enough for Phil …

          • Between critics / reviewers, Phil, Luke, Josh, Mike, M Enois and the rest are some of the best of the best. It is one of the main reasons I come here instead of a site that just talks about the technical aspects of the discs and posts 50 1080P screenshots.

        • Bolo

          Yeah, I find critics these days are either:
          a) man-child fanboys who just drool over lightsabers and flying people in capes punching each other regardless of the quality of any of the narrative components
          b) they’re scared of seeming snobby and out of touch and so they go soft on movies they expect will be popular
          c) they’re motivated by politics and are evaluating movies based on whether they meet certain propaganda check boxes instead of the quality of the actual film

          • Bolo

            Don’t worry, I stopped reading those sites long ago as most of them fit in category ‘A’.

            Which critics do you feel represent the bulk of critics? Which would you say are the best and most reliable ones?

          • I try to read review by reviewers who tend to share similar tastes in movies as I do. Josh,,Aaron and Luke tend to have similar thinking to me on movies, and from another review site, I really like Kennith Brown. Not only do we seem to have similar tastes, but those four are good about breaking down what is good and not good about the movie, and great at talking about the technical aspects of the discs.

      • Quite frankly, movie critics have gotten bad wraps in the last couple of decades in the US. If critics love it, Americans will avoid them, and if critics hate it, Americans will flood the theaters. Quite frankly, I don’t blame them – with the exception of the reviewers here, most critics are just full of themselves, and seem to be picked from the same dna as the Academy Awards panel. If something is edgy, controversal, artsy, or dual, critics seem to love it, whereas American audiences hate it. Critics tend to hate action movies, American audiences love it.

        Don’t believe me? Pull up a handfull of movies on Rotten Tomatoes and look at how skewed the critic scores are versus audience reaction. Very seldom do you have both audiences and critics in agreement. I can’t remember what it was, but in the last year or two, there was one movie that got below a 20% with critics, yet American Audiences gave it a 95%.

        I must say, I have gotten to where I side with most Americans on this – if I just look at a few quotes thrown up on a television spot, and critics love it, I pretty much avoid the movie

        • Bolo

          Um, dude, you’re wrong. Here are the top grossing films of the 2010’s and their Rotten Tomato scores. All of them have positive scores. The lowest being two with 71%.

          Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015) 93%
          Jurassic World (2015) 71%
          Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) 92%
          Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) 85%
          Beauty and the Beast (2017) 71%
          Finding Dory (2016) 94%
          Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) 75%
          The Dark Knight Rises (2012) 87%
          The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) 89%
          Toy Story 3 (2010) 99%
          Wonder Woman (2017) 92%
          Iron Man 3 (2013) 79%
          Captain America: Civil War (2016) 90%
          The Hunger Games (2012) 84%
          Frozen (2013) 89%
          Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) 82%
          Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (2011) 96%
          The Secret Life of Pets (2016) 74%
          Despicable Me 2 (2013) 73%
          The Jungle Book (2016) 95%

          • Let’s not be selective here. You’re missing a few important titles. These were all in the Top 25 box office for the 2010s and had Rotten Tomatoes averages in the “Rotten” range.

            Minions (2015) 56%
            Alice in Wonderland (2010) 52%
            Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) 35%
            Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) 33%
            Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014) 18%

          • Bolo

            I wasn’t deliberately avoiding those movies. I just took the top twenty earners.

            But I still think that this stereotype that critics are all art-house snobs that rarely get behind popcorn fare is untrue.

          • Since 2010:

            Minions = #11
            Transformers: Dark of the Moon = #13
            Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides = #19
            Transformers: Age of Extinction = #15

            Only Alice in Wonderland falls outside the Top 20. (It’s at #21.)

          • Age of Extenction was the one I was thinking about that had low critic scores but high audience scores.

            Now while Star Wars Ranked high, you still have 71 with Jurassic World yet it is the 4th highest ranking movie of all time, Beauty and the Beast is at 71 yet its the 11th highest ranking movie of all time, Avengers, Age of Ultron is 75% but is the 7th highest ranking movie of all time, etc

            And even with those positive scores, a lot of times a critic will rip it apart, but still be like “yeah, sure, why not, go see it” so it counts as a positive on rotten tomatoes.

            Now in our niche HDD community, we do tend to side a bit more with critics on things – we appreciate niche movies more than the general public, but the point was to say that the average American movie goer looks for different things to entertain them than what your usual movie critic does.

          • Bolo

            And people don’t know if they’ll like a movie until they see it. They go to see movies based on the marketing campaign and their enthusiasm for the series, or the genre, and maybe the actors.

            ‘Jurassic World’ probably isn’t many people’s favourite film of all time, but it’s a sequel to lots of people’s favourite film and that’s why they all paid to see it made it one of the top grossing films ever.

          • I think the original point William was making is that people today base their decisions on whether to see a movie almost entirely on the marketing, not what critics have to say. If critics like a movie and it goes on to have great box office, those two things are more coincidental than causal.

            It’s very rare that either overwhelmingly positive or overwhelmingly negative reviews will turn the tides of a movie’s fortune. Perhaps that might happen when it comes to bringing attention to small art films in limited release, but certainly not at the big-budget tentpole level. People already made up their minds that they wanted to see Transformers: Age of Extinction, and even a 0% score on Rotten Tomatoes couldn’t have dissuaded them.

          • Al

            Josh, your rankings are all wrong. Bolo’s list was 100% accurate. I think your rankings reflect worldwide box office totals. The discussion was always about American audiences and critics. It never had anything to do with the rest of the world.

          • Al

            Check the domestic box office rankings of the 2010s…

            None of the titles that you mention are in the top twenty.

        • Bolo

          Well, Josh, I don’t know how you read that out of William’s original post. But if that was his point, then I’m sorry for wasting everybody’s time seeing as I do agree with what you just said about how the biggest blockbusters attract audiences more through marketing and the audience’s enthusiasm for the series or genre than through critical praise.

          His original post read to me like he was saying that Americans actively distrust critics and will even tailor their viewing habits in protest.

          As for those box office totals, I got my top twenty from this site:

          I was not actively avoiding those high-grossing, poorly-reviewed films you’ve mentioned. And I’ll still stand by my point that critics back movies that end up becoming big hits far more often than they don’t.

          • Its not that Americans protest critics, it rather that what critics look for is different than what the American public look for. As Josh said, there can be crossover, but box office totals are not based on critic reviews, which was the point I was trying to make.

          • Bolo

            Then sorry again for missing your point the first time. I agree with the point that reviews have very little influence over audience attendance of big budget movies. Also, I expect critics to skew slightly more negative seeing they’re forced to watch movies that don’t interest them and share their opinions as part of their job, whereas most people choose to go see movies that interest them.

            I constantly see this perception that critics are snobs who only like inaccessible pretentious art films and hate popcorn movies. I generally find this to be untrue. The point of my posts was to show that a critic-audience divide like ‘Transformers’ is actually far more the exception than the rule.

          • Hmmm, interesting point. Yeah, I guess I can agree with this.

            i actually went to go look up this morning a couple of the publications that I thought had the snobby critics, and to my surprise, their critics were like in their 20s and early 30s and tend to like popcorn flicks. What may be happening is the “snooty critics” are retiring and publications are hiring younger film majors who tend to echo the general public opinion.

  7. Hm. I can’t speak for the majority here, of course, as a non-American, but I ‘listen’ to Phil or Luke or Professor M. or Josh. By that I mean, if all these reviewers speak ill of a movie, I will most likely avoid it. I have better things to do. I love film criticism on this site, because it has pointed me towards little known gems or even big name titles I wouldn’t otherwise see. I don’t think I would ever consider watching ‘Dune’ if it wasn’t for Josh’s obsession. I share Luke’s 5-star opinion about ‘Hook’. Professor M has shed many a light on obscure horror classics, and while I haven’t bought them, I have put them in my Amazon wish list for a future sale. So, hats off to HDD. The (American) critics have at least proved their magic for this (European) boy.

    • LOL, I get that. I wouldn’t give Hook 5 stars, but I agree with WHY Luke gave it 5 stars, and I actually do like the movie. I am not as obsessed with Dune as Josh, but I get why he’s obsessed, and once again, I do like the movie. I get why Josh doesn’t like Avatar. I don’t hate it to the same degree he does, but I don’t love it either, and I get why. If the reviewers here rip a movie apart or praise it, they back it up with very good reasons.

      • Luke Hickman


        I was taught that you can gush over or bash a movie as much as you’d like as long as you back it with reasons at the same time.

        And I still love ‘Hook.’ 🙂 As my kids get older, we watch it with greater frequency and I still love it as much as I did when I was a kid. It holds up in quality, not just nostalgia.

      • Timcharger

        You mean “good reasons” like resurrection by magic blood is so much worse than resurrection by magic fingers?

        I kid, I kid. 🙂

  8. Timcharger

    Reading all these comments… dammit! We could have all watched BR 2049 in the same amount of time, and this point about underperforming box office expectations would be solved by us.

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