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How Long Is Too Long For A Part 2?

Does absence really make the heart grow fonder? In a week where a follow-up to Blade Runner was confirmed, I find myself wondering whether or not there comes a point where a movie is too old to warrant a sequel.

I’ll admit, it wasn’t the Blade Runner news that initially got me thinking about this, but the idea that – if JJ Abrams gets around to starting a Star Trek sequel next year as many expect, it’ll be 2013 at the earliest before the movie is released, four years after his first. In these hyper-accelerated times, four years seems like leaving a franchise fallow for too long… so the thirty-year gap between the original Blade Runner (Released in 1982) and Ridley Scott’s planned return suddenly seems almost ridiculously long.

On the one hand, there’s something to be said for waiting such a long time; you get the idea that, if nothing else, this isn’t some rushed cash-in to a fad or the unexpected box office bonanza of the original. If something has taken this long to get going, there’s every possibility that it’s because time has been taken to make sure that it will be something more than “just” another sequel, right…?

Except… If something has taken thirty years to get going, you have to wonder if there’s any real reason for it to exist at all. After all, Blade Runner didn’t really leave a lot of plot holes that demanded resolution (Ambiguity, sure, but that’s kind of the point, that those things are left dangling) – Have there really been people out there for the last few decades thinking to themselves “If only they’d hurry up and make Blade Runner 2“?

Beyond the lack of need for such a project, I’m suspicious about whether or not any movie could realistically live up to the Blade Runner that fans have watched countless times, and become so familiar with that even its flaws somehow become good, comforting things. After thirty years of devotion, a movie ceases to a movie, almost, but becomes host to all manner of additional, related memories and memes and, really, how can anything new live up to that? It’s a lesson that you’d have hoped moviemakers would have learned from the Star Wars prequels – You really can’t go home again, especially not when home is a cult movie that’s been dissected to a truly outrageous degree for years.

(I’m also suspicious about Scott returning to Blade Runner after returning to Alien for Prometheus. Is he doing a greatest hits tour?)

The whole idea of sequels is an odd one. It’s very purposefully abandoning originality to play in more comfortable, more familiar surroundings. There’s something to be said for exploring ideas and characters deeper, I know, but that feels fresher and less like creative cowardice when it can be portrayed as continuing an ongoing story, rather than going back to the well years – or decades – later. I don’t know; as much as I want to hope for the best for the new Blade Runner, I just keep imagining that it can’t help but be a letdown so many years later.

Am I wrong? Has the sudden emergence of the project after all this time made you more excited than you would’ve been back in, say, 1984? Or do you prefer that your sequels come out in relatively quick succession and then allowing a story to finish?


  • JTRobin

    This article would have been better served if you’d taken the time to discuss sequels that have similarly come out many years after their predecessor and how they did in the box office, such as Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull (2008) vs. Last Crusade (1992) , or oustide the sci-fi/fantasy/adventure genre the Color of Money (1986) sequel to the Hustler (1961). 

    As it is this reads more as a gripe against Ridley Scott, than anything…

  • percane

    yep, there’s a ton of examples.
    2010 (1984) sequel to 2001 (1968)
    phantom menace (1999) after jedi (1983)
    psycho 2 (1983) after psycho (1960)
    the sting 2 (1983) after the sting (1973)

  • Chris

    I’m also disappointed at the lack of any comparisons beyond the new Star Trek and Alien.  A great comparison film to point to would be Tron Legacy.  Instead this just feels like a random thoughts post with no real substance that would be better served posted on the message boards than as a news article.

  • Bass Guitar Hero

    I’m still waiting for the sequel to Citizen Kane. You’d think after seventy years…!

  • Dy-lon

    The thing we all have to keep in mind is that to studios, movies are a business first and artform second. Given the choice between making a crappy movie that makes $300 million or a good original movie that makes $60 million, they’re going to go with the crap film every time. You asked if moviemakers learned a lesson from the Star Wars prequels, and they certainly did- people will flock to nostalgia, even if it’s horrible. That’s why The Phantom Menace has made over $900 million.

    As for the passage of time, I don’t really think it makes as much of a difference as a lot of people think it does. If a sequel is good, it’s good. If it’s bad, it’s bad. Time doesn’t matter. After all, would the Matrix sequels have sucked any more or less if they’d come out 20 years later? Agree or disagree, but I think the original Matrix would have had an even greater fan following 30 years down the line than Blade Runner does now if it been left to stand on its own. Instead we got two mind-numbingly awful sequels that tainted the entire franchise. But they sure did make a lot of money, and at the end of the day that’s what the studio cares about because they’re a business.

    This isn’t new and it’s not limited to film. The Dark Knight Strikes Again did the same thing for comics. And I fully believe that DC will cram a Watchmen 2 down our throats at some point in our lifetime. Because no matter how bad it is (and it will be), it will make a lot money.

  • Sijo

    It depends; some movies have a lot of untapped potential that people might want to see explored afterwards; others are one-gimmick wonders. I think Blade Runner is the later- “Look, a  film noir set in a cyberpunk future!” A well-made curiosity but not something that begs to be seen again, unless they manage to come with a really good new angle, like they did with Toy Story 2 (and 3.)

  • Russell Burlingame

    Hey, they waited a *really* long time to make “Hamlet 2″ and that movie was awesome.

  • Dmgutierrez

    T2 came almost 10 years after the original Terminator.  

  • Coryjameson

    If Ridley Scott’s Prometheus is awesome then there is great hope for the new Blade Runner movie. If Scott uses all of the new science developed since these movies originally premiered to enrich the plot, then I think the movies will be awesome.

    Otherwise, they’ll be mediocre retreads which everyone will forget the minute the movie ends.

    It’s my sense that everything in terms of culture is getting worse, less creative, less vital. It seems our civilization is winding down.

  • Erykdonovan

    I don’t think a new Blade Runner needs to be made at all. I don’t feel like there is much that can’t be said by the original, and while the world was totally unique and interesting, the only way that I can even begin to work would be to follow characters as yet unseen in the Blade Runner world.

    Even then I feel like many of the concepts have been explored thoroughly in the past 30 years, and it makes me feel like this movie is being made as a “cash in” more than a true sequel.

  • Invisible Mikey

    I prefer that sequels, prequels, and midquels all disappear since they so rarely equal the quality of an original.  But it’s a business, so anything calculated to be profitable will be made.  Age makes no difference.  Bambi II was 64 years after the original and only showed theatrically in Argentina.  It still made millions in profit.

  • CJ3

    I like what most of you have posted in response to the question asked or the idea that other comparisons were not made like between Tron and Tron: Legacy.

    But I need to stay on the Blade Runner wagon for a moment.  First off they are hoping to do a prequel and a sequel, unless I read it wrong. 

    But let’s go for a prequel, and in that are a few questions.  What will the story center on?  Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) and if so who are you going to cast?  I mean he is too old to re-cast in a prequel.  Or will it center on other characters that create a story that somehow introduces Deckard for the Blade Runner movie?

    Sequel, ok now you can cast Harrison Ford as Deckard and make it so many years later and you can bring back Edward James Olmos as Gaff.  Will these movies finally confirm or deny Deckard as a possible replicant?  An argument that has undeniably continued for years and both the producer and director have said contradicting comments, seems like they were not in agreement on that one.

    So yes there are things yet to be explored in this cyberpunk universe version of Earth and questions some die hard fans of this movie that want answers.  I personally have enjoyed Blade Runner, but I’m by no means a fanboy.  So it will take a great story to make me want to see it.

    Then there is the visual aspect of this idea.  I cannot stand to watch the 3 Star Wars prequels and watch this amazing leap in technological advancement to create visuals that make awesome looking space ships and their controls not looking like a hacked up sound board.  Then you go to Star Wars original trilogy only to see those clunky space ship designs.  So no visual continuity makes a galaxy look like it reverted in it’s Clone Wars.  So I hope Blade Runner prequel/sequels can at least keep the visuals in comparison consistent making it easier to watch for continuity and maybe I am alone here, but it’s quite annoying.  It’s the thing about Tron to Tron: Legacy I was happy about.

    Anyone else agree or disagree with my thoughts?

  • Collectibles

     A year would be enough to show the sequel.. people will tend to forget
    the first after that interval, uh maybe its just me. but i want to speak
    for everyone. the excitement in waiting will spoil if we wait more than 1 year or so.

  • Mel

    Indiana Jones and the last crusade came out in 1989

  • Mike O’Neill

    a lot of the reasons it took so long was because of legal issues, and really has nothing to do with taking the time to get it right.

    As for a Blade Runner follow up, I’m going to withhold judgement until Prometheus comes out, so we can get  a better idea how Ridley Scott goes about doing these follow-ups.

  • Dto2865

    I am in total agreement. you even went so far as to cite my example of the Star Wars prequels.
    That being said, what if it were some sort of extension, rather than a continuation,  to the story? Like, what happened to Deckard & Rachael and what are they doing now, some 30 years later? How has that film’s society changed since the end of the original film? Have the replicants evolved, a la “Terminators/Skynet”? Has technology advanced further enough to where replicants are practically undetectable?
    And, what about the Blade Runners themselves? Are they still around? Have they become some sort of elite group of law enforcement, like SWAT or military Special Forces? Or, have they become obsolete? Were they eliminated by the replicants?
    There are many questions that fans would like to have explored. A second film could do that.
    Now, casting-wise, it would require not only Harrison Ford to return (with Sean Young, perhaps?), but also a some fresh faces as well.  I wouldn’t mind seeing a female lead in the second film. 
    Just so long as the story remains faithful to the already established foundation, a follow-up top the original “Blade Runner” would be interesting to see.
    Although, there’s been speculation that Scott is seriously considering a prequel &/or parallel story instead…

  • Dto2865

    dude, the sled will still be “rosebud”… :-P

  • Bass Guitar Hero

    Naw, it can’t leave us hangin’ like that!

  • Lastnamecumbie

    I am a huge scifi fan but one I think blade runner is overrated because it lag and it was a little too slow also why is there going to be a sequel I mean really the movie didnt leave out an opening and I have to point out you wanna write about age in sequels well what about disney making a prequel to the wizard of oz and a company that is making a sequel to that movie because that is a huge gap for a sequel

  • Brodie Searcy

    All I have to say is that I’m looking forward to The Wicker Tree, the sequel to the original Wicker Man.

  • Tomfitz1

    And then there’s Tron: Legacy which came out, what, 28 years after Tron?

    I suppose it all depends on the story being told, and the availability of the specific actors from the previous film (assuming they’re STILL alive).  ;-)

    I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing the prequel of the LOTR: The Hobbit Pts. 1 & 2.  Even tho’ there was a 10 year gap.

  • Seamuskeaneart

    and Tron:Legacy

  • Anonymous

    “four years seems like leaving a franchise fallow for too long” 


  • Jim

    That describes, like, 90% of Graeme’s “articles.”

  • Dswynne1

    Didn’t one of the original actors re-shoot some scenes for the re-release of the movie?

  • CJ3

    Yeah I have a feeling it could go into a story that is about some evolution of the society and either their acceptance or denial of a replicant race living among them and how they have evolved.  Yeah I guess the question then would be if Blade Runners are no longer around or also have evolved into some elite task force.  I definitely think that Deckard and Gaff need to come back since Gaff in the version I saw was last to see Deckard gone and leave behind the paper swan.

    It could also be s story about it being years later and a murder happens and it appears to be believe that it was a replicant, but speculation is that replicants are no longer around since the Blade Runners supposedly made them extinct and the companies shut down.  Then maybe someone like your female lead is brought in with a team of newly trained task force, possibly trained by Gaff to hunt down Deckard because maybe some type of evidence suggest he was involved.  So I don’t know it could also be similiar in that they are looking for Deckard with Gaff’s help because maybe he is the last Blade Runner and they need his help to track down some rogue replicant and from there the story evolves.  Maybe Deckard teaches the younger female how to hunt down replicants or something, anyway nice speculating…

  • Franco

    I agree with Dy-Lon in that studios are motivated by money and not art. We are going to get stuck with sequels to movies whether we want them or not. But in this case, if we’re gonna have a Blade Runner sequel (or spin off) I’m glad it’s Ridley Scott making it. He’s fully aware of the importance of his first film, and really, he’s the only person who could do it justice in a follow-up movie. Unless he’s just cashing in before he retires…but no, I think he’s too much of an artist for that.

  • Cforshaw67220

    Thematic sequel. 

  • Cforshaw67220

    Lets be clear on this: no film needs a sequel unless it is an adaptation of a serial from another medium, and even then they aren’t really sequels, but a continuation of a story. This is an important distinction; a sequel is an original story with familiar cast, setting, themes, etc., whilst a serialised continuation merely extends the plot of the original film in a significant way. In these terms, sequels are pointless – they are original stories which rely on audience familiarity, which in turn means that studios have to take less risks to entertain their audience: they can be fairly sure, in these times of short-term profit-obsessives, that the film with have a massive opening weekend due to this familiarity. Therefore, the reason for making a sequel is purely business, which is extremely bad for the audience because the emphasis is on accounting, not entertainment. However, film serials often have greater promise because they build upon the events of the previous story at the risk of, supposedly, alienating a casual viewer, but using the audiences shared understanding of the world and those characters to reveal new depth within the story. This model tends to be better for the audience because the emphasis is on entertaining, and because it rewards those who dedicate themselves to the study of the story. In this model, ‘Batman Begins’ leads nicely to ‘The Dark Knight’, and sees the reccurance of many themes, issues and character arcs, which rewards the audience. In the original model, we get ‘Batman and Robin’ as a sequel to ‘Batman Forever’. One values its audience, and wants to reward them for their support; one is all about bums on seats.

    So, which will ‘Blade Runner 2′ be? At the time of discussing, no-one has any real idea, because we don’t know if it will be a sequel, prequel, remake, reimagining, side-story, story-set-in-the-same-universe… The facts are these: Ridley Scott is involved in the making of a film set in the world of ‘Blade Runner’. From that, the entire argument should centre on only two concrete things:

    (1) Do you think Ridley Scott can create a compelling film?

    (2) Do you think the world of ‘Blade Runner’ will interest a modern audience?

    The time between the films doesn’t matter because without any further information we don’t know whether it matters. If it is a stand-alone film set within that world, why would the original matter at all? The audience doesn’t need to have seen it in that case. If it is based around the events of the original, how much? Is Harrison Ford too old? Well, we don’t even know if he’ll be in it. The sensible thing would be for him no to be, so as not to ruin the debates about Deckard being a replicant. So, if you don’t have any major connection to the original, aside from, maybe, peripheral characters and setting, themes and issues, and director, none of which would impact on the audience’s potential enjoyment (as we are only discussing potential) the time gap doesn’t matter.

    Further, isn’t this a question that should, reasonably, have been asked about numerous other movies released of late, none of which have been really effected by the passage of time?

  • Sonofspam

    Better than a remake i imagine.

  • Haliwood1

    I think how well or poorly a sequel has done in other movie series should be taken out of the equation.  There have been the bad, example: “Highlander 2″; the good, example: “Empire Strikes Back”; the great, example: “Godfather 2″; and then those sequels that were better than their originals, such as “Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan” or “The Dark Knight”. 

    I think the question truly is “Does the story need a continuation?”  If need is too strong, change it to “can it benefit”.  With a story like “The Godfather”, it didn’t need Part 2, but, Part 2 certainly did benefit the storyline.  But, did a film like “Rocky” need a sequel?  No.  It should have remained a stand alone film.  Same with “The Highlander”.  The sequel was worthless.  And in that same light, I think a sequel to “Blade Runner” is worthless.

    The original movie was slow and plodding for some.  For others, it was described as the definition of what Science Fiction should be.  But, do we really need to revisit it?  Was there anything in the story that said, “Wow, I really would have liked if we had revisited it 5, 10 years later.”?  No.  The story was tight.  Great beginning, middle and end, if you liked the film.

    Whether it will be a money maker or not isn’t the point.  The sequels to “The Mummy” made money, but, besides the first few minutes of “The Scorpion King” did they really need to be made?  Did we really need to see their son?  I mean, really?  But, that second film took in $24 mil on its first day.  Heck, just look at “Godzilla” from 1998, and you can still hear Roland Emmerich defending that film as better than the critics (and the rest of the world) gave it credit for. 

    Ultimately, we’ll have to wait and see how the sequel does.

  • Drithien

    Wow! A thinking man on the internet. What a find! I agree with you completely. Right now we do not know what Blade Runner II will be. So there is no point discussing if it is too late for a sequel to the first movie. We just don’t know if Blade Runner II is going to be a sequel or prequel or something else. In general, as far as I am concerned, in Ridley Scott I trust. :)

  • James Woodward

    If the Blade Runner thing actually happens, that must be the longest gap between the original and its sequel, right?  I was thinking Psycho 2 had it, but I guess that must just be that both Blade Runners may happen in my lifetime, so seem less removed by time (Clearly, I’m hella old). Is there another sequel that came out longer after its parent? And to the pertinent question of how long is too long, I suspect it would depend on the property.  Psycho 2 wasn’t and could never be Hitchcock, but actually had somewhere to go with the story and was better than expected (and I would say the same for Psychos 3 & 4).  I’m no expert on the various versions of Blade Runner that seem to keep spilling out,  but no matter how cool “Film Noir in a Dystopian Future” sounds, to me this is still “Only Movie I was Bored Enough in the Theater to play a Handheld Video Game During It” to me.

  • Joe Soap

    No one ever said it would be a sequel or prequel.

  • no download video poker casino

    I definitely agree with collectibles, just a year interval for the sequel.