Denis Villeneuve noted that he's fully aware of the immense pressure he's under, and how hardcore fans of the original view the prospect of a new film: "I know that every single fan will walk into the theater with a baseball bat. I'm aware of that and I respect that, and it's okay with me because it's art. Art is risk, and I have to take risks. It's gonna be the biggest risk of my life but I'm okay with that. For me it's very exciting... It's just so inspiring, I'm so inspired. I've been dreaming to do sci-fi since I was 10 years old, and I said 'no' to a lot of sequels. I couldn't say 'no' to Blade Runner 2049. I love it too much, so I said, 'Alright, I will do it and give everything I have to make it great.'"
The text of the baseline that K must do ("Cells interlinked within cells interlinked Within one stem. And dreadfully distinct Against the dark, a tall white fountain played") is from Nabokov's "Pale Fire".
Initially, Denis Villeneuve was against the concept of a sequel to Blade Runner (1982), as he felt it could violate the original. But after reading the script, which he and Harrison Ford have described as "one of the best" they have ever read, he committed to the project, stating that Ford was already involved at that point: "To be very honest with you, Harrison was part of the project before I arrived. He was attached to it right from the start with Ridley [Scott]. I met him and he's honestly one of the nicest human beings I've met and is one of my favorite actors of all time, so for me it's a lot of pleasure."
According to the documentary Dangerous Days: The Making of Blade Runner Ridley Scott had a totally different introduction in mind for Rick Deckard in the 1982 movie. In the end he chose the noodles scene on the street to first show Ford as an ex-Blade Runner. 35 Years later director Denis Villeneuve used that exact unused scene in Blade Runner 2049 to introduce Ryan Gosling. It became the farm scene with the discovery of the tree.
Hampton Fancher was approached to write a script for this film. He agreed to write the sequel but in a novella format mixed with a screenplay. He wrote the 110 page novella script and then told them to leave him alone after that.
Composer Jóhann Jóhannsson was attached to compose the music for the film; however, in August 2017, he dropped out from the project for unknown reasons and composer Hans Zimmer, along with Benjamin Wallfisch, were hired to replace Jóhannsson.
With Ridley Scott having toyed with the edit of Blade Runner (1982) over the years, it is fair to ask which version would be considered "canon" going into the sequel. Denis Villeneuve replied by insinuating the follow-up may not be as much of a straightforward sequel as we thought: "The movie will be autonomous and at the same time there will be some link. The only thing I can say is I was raised with the original cut, the original version that Ridley doesn't like. That's the Blade Runner that I was introduced to at the beginning and that I loved for years, and then I must say that I appreciated the very last cut, the 'Final Cut' version. So between all the different cuts, for me it's the first and the very last that I'm more inspired by."
The film includes signs for companies that suffered the alleged "Blade Runner Curse," most notably Pan Am airlines (which went bankrupt in 1991) and Atari (which currently exists as a brand but has not been a corporate entity since the mid 90s). Denis Villeneuve has explained that both films take place in an alternate universe where these companies remained corporate powerhouses and other companies like Apple didn't exist (not to mention a universe in which synthetic humans were developed by the 2010s)
For shooting of the scene in Las Vegas, cinematographer Roger Deakins got inspired by a memory of seeing the Sydney Opera House in Australia after a dust storm. Denis Villeneuve suggested adding the giant erotic statue.
The name of Agent K's apartment building is Mobius 21. Jean (Moebius) Giraud's graphic short story "The Long Tomorrow" (published in Metal Hurlant in France and Heavy Metal in the US) was an early influence on the look of Blade Runner.
Sony Pictures, which handles world distribution of Blade Runner 2049, drew the wrath of Film Critics Association of of Turkey (SIYAD) when it defended its decision of supplying a self-censored version of the movie, deleting all instances of nudity, to Turkey by stating that it was done out of "respect for the local culture." SIYAD responded in an open letter to Sony, saying "Seeing oneself as an authority to decide what is appropriate and what is not appropriate for a "local culture" and imposing your view on that "culture" is one of the greatest shows of disrespect for that "culture". It is an insult to the people of Turkey and specifically to movie-goers in Turkey to assume them to be disturbed by any sign of nudity whatsoever. "
Questioned about the possibility of a future alternative cut of the film Denis Villeneuve stated that the theatrical cut is his one and only cut. The original Blade Runner (1982) is notorious for having several different cuts released through the years.
When asked for his thoughts about the sequel, Rutger Hauer, (who played Roy Batty in Blade Runner (1982)), stated that that he was completely indifferent to it. He saw no reason why the makers would go back to something which he thought was already perfect, but admitted that it could be considered a complement.
Originally, at the early development stage of the project, Ridley Scott was set to take on the directorial duties of this film. By the time the movie was getting close to pre-production, Scott announced he would no longer take the helm but would stay involved as a producer. Specifics weren't given by Scott on why he dropped out of directing the film. Oddly enough, a report came out in August 2014 that Alien: Covenant (2017), a sequel to Prometheus (2012), may be getting delayed because Scott planned to helm this film after The Martian (2015), which was in production at the time. But now, it looks to be the other way around, and Scott's commitment to Alien: Covenant (2017) may have forced him to step away from directing this film.
Due to the plot differences between the multiple cuts of Blade Runner (1982) the people questioned which version of the original film is used as a canon for the sequel. Although Denis Villeneuve expressed his love for the original theatrical cut he stated that his film is a following of the 'Final Cut' version released in 2007.
Hampton Fancher (co-writer of the original) and Michael Green have written the original screenplay based on an idea by Fancher and Ridley Scott with the story taking place several decades after the conclusion of the 1982 original. Denis Villeneuve said in an interview for Collider on September 11, 2015: "Hampton Fancher, Ridley Scott and Michael Green did a fantastic job on the screenplay. It's a very powerful screenplay. And I felt that it made sense to me and I had the Ridley Scott blessing. But you ask if I hesitated. I hesitated massively. It took me a lot of time to say yes."
Speaking of pressure, Denis Villeneuve admitted that he was initially hesitant to take on such an iconic property: "It's more than nervous, it's a deep fear. I mean when I heard that Ridley Scott wanted to do another movie in the Blade Runner universe, at first my reaction was that it's a fantastic idea, but it may be a very bad idea. I'm among the hardcore fans of Blade Runner (1982). It's one of my favorite movies of all time. It's a movie that is linked with my love and passion for cinema. I'm coming from a small town in Quebec where, at that time, there was no internet and the way to be in contact with movies were those American fan magazines like Fantastic Films and Starlog and I still remember the shock, the impact of seeing the first frames, the first pictures coming out of Blade Runner. Me and my friends were in awe, so excited and the movie was such a strong cinematic experience. A new way of seeing sci-fi."
Sony Pictures Entertainment/Columbia Pictures were not involved with the original Blade Runner (in fact in 1982 Columbia Pictures was owned by the Coca-Cola company). Sony's participation in this movie is due to their purchase of Embassy Pictures, one of the first movie's producers.
When K is approached by Mariette and two other women, one of the other two speaks her lines in Finnish, saying "Tää jätkä on Blade Runner. Se on vitun vaarallinen. Annetaan sen olla." ("This guy is a Blade Runner. He's fucking dangerous, let's leave him be."). The character is played by Krista Kosonen, who is a native Finn.
This would be the second time Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch have worked together in 2017; they previously collaborated on Dunkirk (2017), a film by Christopher Nolan. However, Hans Zimmer composed most of the music for Dunkirk, while Wallfisch contributed with sounds on some tracks.
Ultimately Denis Villeneuve says he signed on, "because I feel that I can do it," and expanded a bit on how he'll be approaching the sequel: "It's a huge challenge, because you don't want to cut and paste, otherwise there's no point. And at the same time you have to respect what was done, so you have to find the right equilibrium between being faithful to the first one and bringing something new at the same time that will make sense to the Blade Runner universe."
Joi suggests the name "Joe" for K. Josef K is the name of the main character in Franz Kafka's novel The Trial. Josef K is accused of a crime but is never told the charge, a possible metaphor for K's station in life.
European sci-fi magazine Métal Hurlant, considered revolutionary in the comic book art form during the 70s and 80s, has inspired many generations of authors and filmmakers, such as Ridley Scott for Blade Runner (1982). François Schuiten, one of the most influential comic book artists behind Métal Hurlant, acted as production designer on Mars et Avril (2012). This indie sci-fi romance, which pays tribute to Métal Hurlant in many ways, is directed by Martin Villeneuve, the younger brother of Denis Villeneuve who directed this film.
In an (21 September, 2017) interview in Dutch magazine Algemeen Dagblad actress Sylvia Hoeks explained her hair was dyed black to give her "an Asian appearance". Hoeks: "I became the Japanese version of myself. My best friend and I even started to greet each other in Japanese."
In June 2009, The New York Times reported that Scott and his brother, director Tony Scott, were working on a Blade Runner prequel, Purefold, set in 2019. The prequel was planned as a series of 5-10 minute shorts, aimed first at the web and then perhaps television. Due to rights problems, the series was not to be linked too closely to the characters or events of the 1982 film. On February 7, 2010, it was announced that production on Purefold had ceased, due to funding problems. On March 4, 2011, the website io9 reported that Yorkin was developing a new Blade Runner film. It was also reported that month that director Christopher Nolan was desired as director.
Jared Leto made a surprise appearance at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, NV on March 29, 2017 to promote the film at the Warner Bros. panel, and to introduce new footage. Leto appeared alongside co-star Ana de Armas and director Denis Villeneuve. Ryan Gosling also appeared at the convention to present new footage at the Sony Pictures panel.
Ridley Scott started the production and was set to direct the film, but in the end turned down the project due schedule conflicts with Alien: Covenant (2017). He remained however as executive producer and creative consultant.
The alarm that sounds in Deckard's apartment just before he says "They know you're here" to K is the same alarm sound that is heard in Ridley Scott's "Prometheus" when Elizabeth Shaw is programming the med pod to perform a C-section on her.
During post production, on July 11th, 1981, Producer Michael Deeley and Director Ridley Scott were both "technically" fired from the original "Blade Runner" . "Blade Runner 2049" began filming exactly 35 years later on July 11th, 2016.
The image of garbage transports dropping their loads into the junkyard of San Diego echoes, if only coincidentally, the setting of Soldier (1998), written by Blade Runner (1982) co-screenwriter David Webb Peoples. In that film, the protagonist is a space soldier deemed obsolete and dumped on a junkyard planet, and is a veteran of battles described by Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) in Blade Runner.
After saying Deckard has retired, Gaff makes an origami sheep. This is of course a reference to the original source novel 'Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?' In that book, Deckard is saving for a real sheep for his wife, and muses that an android might hope for a manufactured animal. It is also a reference to Gaff's habit of making tiny origami sculptures out of little pieces of paper in the first film.
The music that activates Joi consists of the opening notes of Sergey Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf," a piece in which music (an artistic creation) represents different organic living creatures - a similar situation to Joi herself.
Deckard's first words to K are "You mightn't happen to have a piece of cheese about you," a quote from "Treasure Island" by Robert Louis Stevenson. In a deleted scene from the original Blade Runner (1982), Deckard visits Holden in the hospital and finds him reading Treasure Island.
A visual effects company worked for a full year on the scene where Rachael (Sean Young) appears exactly as she did 35 years ago in Blade Runner (1982). Look-alike actress Loren Peta acted out the scene, and her appearance was changed through computer-generated visual effects to resemble Young. Rachael's voice was provided by a sound double. Director Denis Villeneuve purposely limited the amount of Rachael's shots and gave the visual effects team ample time to work, in order to avoid the criticism that the digitally recreated Carrie Fisher and Peter Cushing in Rogue One (2016) had drawn. He said that the result was "mesmerizing".
When K asks why Graff believed Deckard was always going to end up leaving society, Graff said "it was something in his eyes." This alludes to the running theory that Deckard is a replicant: in the original Blade Runner (1982), the Voight-Kampff test used to identify replicants focused intensely on the subject's eyes and pupil responses.
In the scene where Mariette wakes up the morning after being with K, she sees the little wooden horse standing upright on the side table. The light let in from the window casts a shadow from the horse onto the table, which resembles none other than a unicorn.
With her age at the time of filming (57 year old), Sean Young does not appear directly in the movie, but her character (the young Rachael) is recalled firstly with a picture and upgraded footage from Blade Runner (1982), and secondly played by a performance double (Loren Peta). Young was brought in personally to train Peta in reproducing Rachael's characteristic gait and mannerisms from the first movie. The scenes were filmed with minimal crew and in total secrecy, and Young's contribution was purposely denied in media campaigns. In fact, perhaps as misdirection, Young had previously revealed that she wasn't asked by the producers (including Ridley Scott) to appear in the film, and even requested fans to boycott the movie if she was not in it.
Throughout the movie Niander Wallace and Luv call replicants "angels". It's a nod for Blade Runner (1982), in a scene where Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) said: "Fiery the angels fell; deep thunder rolled around their shores; burning with the fires of Orc".
According to one of the film's producers, Ridley Scott, Harrison Ford will reprise his role as Rick Deckard from Blade Runner (1982). Scott talked about the sequel's story and what involvement Ford will have as he went on to say: "We talked at length about what it could be, and came up with a pretty strong three-act storyline, and it all makes sense in terms of how it relates to the first one. Harrison is very much part of this one, but really it's about finding him; he comes in in the third act."
Both this movie and the original use eyes as a recurring motif: in the original Blade Runner the second shot is an extreme closeup of an eye. This is the first shot of Blade Runner 2049. In the original Blade Runner Roy and Leon visit Chew, the engineer who designed the Nexus 6 replicant's eyes. In Blade Runner 2049 the Nexus 8 replicants are identified by their eyes. Eldon Tyrell wears very large glasses and is murdered by Roy by having his skull crushed through his eyes. Niander Wallace is blind and relies on miniature drones to see.
The tree in the photograph bears a resemblance to the logo of the Ladd Company, one of the producers of the original Blade Runner. Although the company's distinctive logo - a stylized computer rendering of a tree - was used on 14 movies the logo has long been associated with Blade Runner, much as MGM's rare stylized lion is associated with 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The name of the casino that Deckard is living in is "Vintage Casino." This would explain the analog roulette tables, as well as the old-school showroom with the Elvis Presley and showgirls holograms, and the jukebox with a Frank Sinatra hologram.
Rachael dying sometime after the events of the original movie had previously been used in the 1995 follow-up novel "Blade Runner 2: The Edge of Human." The main plot point of replicants procreating naturally had previously been used in the 1996 follow-up novel "Blade Runner: Replicant Night."
A scene features a malfunctioning hologram of the late Elvis Presley going in and out playing a song. While heard only in brief intervals, the song playing ("Suspicious Minds") contains lyrical content that closely match the events of the movie.
Jared Leto's character Niander Wallace is blind. Not only is this a reference to Oedipus Rex who blinds himself upon learning that he has had sex with his creator, but Niander Wallace's predecessor Dr. Eldon Tyrell had his eyes gouged out by a replicant in search of its/his creator.
For Denis Villeneuve, there are two versions of the original Blade Runner (1982) movie despite the seven alternative cuts: The original cut is the story of a human being that is falling in love with a replicant and the final cut is a story of a replicant that discovers its true identity. As for Blade Runner 2049, with Villeneuve's own words, it is made from the tension between those two versions.
6.10.21 is engraved on the root of the tree under which Rachel has been buried and on the foot of the wooden horse toy as a hint of both of the birthday of the "special" child and the date of death of Rachel. "Blade Runner:2049" has been released on 6.10.17 (dd/mm/year date form in Europe) just ten years and one day after (5.10.2007) "Blade Runner: final cut" premiered in Los Angeles and New York.
The movie shares some similarities with Harrison Ford's earlier film Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). Both movies revolve around characters who are eagerly looking for someone: Blade Runner 2049 centers around Officer K (Ryan Gosling) as he searches for Rick Deckard, who has been missing for 30 years, while in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) Han Solo (Ford), Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega) set out to find Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) whom had disappeared after his failure to found a new Jedi Order. This film also addresses Deckard's search for his long-lost child, which is also a common theme with Star Wars, where Han Solo tried to reconnect with his estranged son after many years.
The default ringtone music is from Sergey Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf", a possible clue that the whole world is a fairy tale. At the end of that fable the wolf is caught and kept in a zoo, but the duck it had swallowed whole can still be heard quacking from within the wolf's belly.