Blade Runner back in business

Harrison Ford as Deckard in a scene from Blade Runner. Photo / Supplied
Harrison Ford as Deckard in a scene from Blade Runner. Photo / Supplied

This sounds dangerous. A sci-fi film set in the distant future made in the recent past will now in the near future be the subject of a prequel set in what was once the distant future of the recent past, then a sequel set beyond that distant future.

Warner Bros are in the final stages of acquiring the film and television rights to produce sequels and prequels of Ridley Scott's 1982 film Blade Runner - regularly named the best science fiction film ever made.

And if Hollywood succeeds where the Large Hadron Collider failed and finally sucks all life down a breach in the space time continuum, one thing at least is highly likely: they'll have made a lot of money doing it.

Warner-based production outfit Alcon Entertainment, who were behind the recent remake of The Wicker Man, are negotiating for the rights. Details are at the moment sparing but a statement released yesterday claims, no doubt to the relief of Blade Runner's many fans, that a straight remake is not on the cards.

"Alcon's franchise rights would be all-inclusive, but exclude rights to remake the original," said a statement carried by Slashfilm.com.

"The company, however, may produce projects based on situations introduced in the original film. The project would be distributed domestically by Warner Bros. International rights are yet to be determined."

Alcon co-founders Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove have described the deal as a "major acquisition" for the company. "We recognise the responsibility we have to do justice to the memory of the original with any prequel or sequel we produce. We have long-term goals for the franchise, and are exploring multi-platform concepts, not just limiting ourselves to one medium," they said.

Multi-platform concepts can only mean video games and apps for phones and tablets, which may give fans cause for concern. When the original film was released in 1982 it garnered a mixed reaction, but has since gained "cult classic" status. But such was its popularity as a VHS rental throughout the 1980s, it became one of the first films to be released on DVD.

Set in a dystopian Los Angeles of 2019, the film concerns a group of "replicants" - artificially engineered humanoids - who have illegally returned to Earth from their work on man's "off-world colonies". Enter recently retired special police operative, "Blade Runner" Harrison Ford, who returns from retirement for one last job to hunt them down.

Unsurprisingly, the news has been greeted with some scepticism by Blade Runner fans, not that it would stop them flocking to the cinema regardless. Especially when what a prequel to Blade Runner would entail has provoked such a mouth-watering discussion. "I imagine a new film would probably look at how the replicants got to earth," said Ian Nathan, executive editor of Empire magazine. "You could also follow the stories of Blade Runners in different places. There's the potential for film noiry police thriller-type stuff."

In the film's most memorable moment, replicant Roy Batty, played by Rutger Hauer, tells Harrison Ford: "I've seen things you wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time ... like tears in rain ..."

Tantalising options indeed for any director, they may well be lost in time no longer, but coming to a big screen near you.

- INDEPENDENT

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