Despite critical praise and optimistic tracking, Warner Bros./Alcon/Columbia’s “Blade Runner 2049” has crashed hard at the box office, grossing just $31.5 million in its opening weekend from 4,058 screens against a reported budget of $150 million.
It’s a tough fall for the Denis Villeneuve-directed sequel to Ridley Scott’s classic sci-fi noir. Before the weekend, the most conservative tracking estimates had this film matching the $45 million opening earned in 2015 by “Mad Max: Fury Road.” Instead, “2049” is falling short even of the “$36.1 million made earlier this year by Scott’s “Alien: Covenant,” which tanked in subsequent weeks after all the hardcore “Alien” fans saw the film on opening night.
Now signs are already pointing to “2049” suffering a similar fate. After making $12.7 million on Friday, including $4 million from Thursday previews, revenue fell 11 percent on Saturday to $11.4 million. “Blade Runner 2049” is proving to be a very front-loaded film, as the original’s cult fanbase packed early screenings, while mainstream audiences have been slow to buy tickets.
This in part explains the discrepancy between the film’s A- grade on CinemaScore and the lack of word-of-mouth we’ve seen among mainstream audiences. The CinemaScore demographic breakdown was 71 percent male and 86 percent over the age of 25, with 63 percent over the age of 35. For a generation of hardcore film buffs — mostly male — who remember seeing the original “Blade Runner” in theaters, “2049” was an event release. But for other demos, this film doesn’t seem to have struck a chord, even with Ryan Gosling in his first wide release since “La La Land.”
This weekend’s other new releases also performed below pre-weekend expectations. Fox/Chernin’s “The Mountain Between Us” took second place this weekend with $10.1 million from 3,068 screens against a $35 million budget and pre-weekend projections of $11-13 million. Lionsgate’s “My Little Pony: The Movie” came in fourth with $8.8 million from 2,528 screens against projections of $10 million. Both films had an A- on CinemaScore, but “MLP” had a Rotten Tomatoes score of 57 percent while “Mountain” had a 46 percent score.
The lone bright spot for the box office continues to be September’s biggest film, “It,” which passed the $300 million domestic mark and $600 million worldwide this weekend. “It” is now the first horror film and fourth R-rated film to pass $300 million domestic, joining “American Sniper,” “Deadpool” and “Passion of the Christ.”