Today’s critics laud Blade Runner as one of the greatest, most singular visions of sci-fi filmmaking, but its original 1982 release was both a box office flop and a critical dud (Siskel & Ebert gave it “two thumbs down”). Much of that initial derision, it turns out, can be placed at the feet of Warner Bros. interference during the editing process, which resulted in a muddled “theatrical cut” complete with (among many other woes) cheesy voice-overs, confusing plot progression, and an unearned happy finale.
Ten years later, however, audiences discovered the “Director’s Cut,” introducing everyone to an entirely different film, one that matched the story’s scope and Ridley Scott’s vision. The updated version wasn’t the result of contrite studio execs, though, but the dogged efforts of a handful of L.A. film buffs, including filmmaker Bruce Wright, who this week detailed the grassroots campaign advocating for the full movie’s release.
According to Wright, one day he and a handful of diehard original Blade Runner fans accidentally (no, seriously) found themselves watching a 70mm print of the Director’s Cut on a Sunday morning matinee. Wright’s recollection is pretty incredible stuff, detailing the reactions of a surprised audience of around 25 people who collectively realized they were seeing something very, very special.
Wright eventually wrote of the experience in the Los Angeles Times, and then helped mount a dedicated letter-writing campaign to Warner Bros. asking for a wider release of this new cut. The studio acquiesced, and the rest is history. Or dystopian future? Retro-future? Anyway, you can read Wright’s full thread here.
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