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Read the original studio notes to a test screening of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner and prepare for irony

Mar. 15, 2013by:

Arguably one of the greatest sci-fi films ever made, Ridley Scott's BLADE RUNNER was plagued with production and post-production issues. From a troubled shoot, a turbelent Harrison Ford, and fervent studio involvement it's a wonder the film ever got made at all. Eventually, the film was yanked from Scott and re-cut into the theatrical version, which didn't bode well at the theaters. Most audiences agreed it was slow, plodding, and unlike anything they'd ever seen. Which has come to be one of the film's greatest attributes.

These screening notes from January 21, 1981, which are bullet-listed with initials (presumably the J.P. is co-producer Jerry Perenchio, the B.Y. co-executive producer Bud Yorkin), outline a number of things about the film, none of them very flattering. This has made the rounds before, but it's new to me and I thought it would be interesting to share with those who haven't seen it. There's quite a few gems, too, including, "This movie gets worse every screening," and "They have put back more tits into the Zhora dressing room scene." It's a compelling peek into the process of studio involvement when "fine tuning" a film for release, even back in 1981. It would be easy to rip apart the execs, but ultimately the movie didn't do well in theaters initially because of many of the things they brought up, but over time has become a staple to the genre.

Take a look:

Some people don't dig BLADE RUNNER. And, in some ways, I don't begrudge them that opinion, even if I highly disagree. My father showed me the film as a boy and I didn't quite understand its complexities, but was drawn to it nonetheless. As I got older and the more I watched it, the more I loved it. It's a film well ahead of its time and something that doesn't exist as a popcorn tentpole film, but a thought-provoking, imaginitive vision of the future. Also known as a starting template for great sci-fi. If you've never seen the film, I couldn't recommend it more. It holds up beautifully.

If Ridley Scott every gets around to directing the proposed sequel, I'll be the first in line. I'd love to see what he does with another chapter of BLADE RUNNER, for better or worse.

Extra Tidbit: Although it may should like sacrilege, I grew up on the voice-over version and still prefer it, although I appreciate the 1997 director's cut. What's your favorite version?
Source: Movies.com

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2:22PM on 03/17/2013
The 14th is right.
The 14th is right.
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12:13PM on 03/17/2013

Ugh

While I am in no way comparing the two movies (Blade Runner is one of my favorite films), I was at a screening of "JDATE" with Don Coscarelli where he was asked a question about "The Beastmaster". It was his first real foray into working on a big movie for a studio. At one point, an exec mentioned to the producers that the movie was too short. The exec offered no other notes other than that. Taking it at face value, the producers forced Coscarelli and the editor to add one second to each
While I am in no way comparing the two movies (Blade Runner is one of my favorite films), I was at a screening of "JDATE" with Don Coscarelli where he was asked a question about "The Beastmaster". It was his first real foray into working on a big movie for a studio. At one point, an exec mentioned to the producers that the movie was too short. The exec offered no other notes other than that. Taking it at face value, the producers forced Coscarelli and the editor to add one second to each shot, adding minutes to the film. My point is, studios ruin movies. Good movies, bad movies, it doesn't matter. The more people who get their hands into a film, the more problems there are. That's why it's truly remarkable when a really great movie is made.
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9:51PM on 03/16/2013

replicant! WHAT!

I dont agree with Ridleys view of Deckard being a replicant. It just doesnt work for me and it doesnt make sense and makes the film seriously flawed. It also takes the question away of what is it to be human.
I dont agree with Ridleys view of Deckard being a replicant. It just doesnt work for me and it doesnt make sense and makes the film seriously flawed. It also takes the question away of what is it to be human.
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4:24PM on 03/16/2013
I can understand some of the production notes, in the I agree with some of them.
I can understand some of the production notes, in the I agree with some of them.
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6:56AM on 03/16/2013
Final Cut ftw.
Final Cut ftw.
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2:38AM on 03/16/2013
That fuckin' voice over takes me out of it every time. Director's Cut is where its at.
That fuckin' voice over takes me out of it every time. Director's Cut is where its at.
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1:03AM on 03/16/2013

Oh, the irony

Arguably, the best sci-fi film of all-time? Why, I don't think there's much argument about it...

Hard to believe, for such a hardcore sci-fi fan as myself to put off watching this movie for so long! It wasn't until 2006 when I first saw BLADE RUNNER, and as you probably could tell from my avatar pic.....yes, I have become quite taken with the picture. But as was the case with many others, I didn't quite 'get it' either upon my 1st viewing. I probably blame the fact that it was the Theatrical
Arguably, the best sci-fi film of all-time? Why, I don't think there's much argument about it...

Hard to believe, for such a hardcore sci-fi fan as myself to put off watching this movie for so long! It wasn't until 2006 when I first saw BLADE RUNNER, and as you probably could tell from my avatar pic.....yes, I have become quite taken with the picture. But as was the case with many others, I didn't quite 'get it' either upon my 1st viewing. I probably blame the fact that it was the Theatrical Cut with that lame voiceover narration, nonetheless it blew me away visually but didn't really consider it anything special otherwise. And in viewing the film multiple times and other versions since, unlike what the note says I find that it just keeps getting BETTER with each viewing. This is simply, the very height of brilliance in science fiction cinema. Yet to be matched and shall perhaps remain forever unsurpassed.

Favorite version - the 1992 Director's Cut. They're all better than the Theatrical, the 'Final Cut' just adds a few lines and tweaks here & there that I'm none too crazy about. The only version I haven't seen I believe is the Workprint Cut. If only I had the $$$ to pony up for that superb 30th Anniversary Blu-ray set, damn it!
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11:59PM on 03/15/2013
I blame guys like these for the ever shortening attention span of the common movie goer. I wonder how many films got changed because of producers like these. Sorry you couldn't sit still and pay attention for a couple fucking hours.
I blame guys like these for the ever shortening attention span of the common movie goer. I wonder how many films got changed because of producers like these. Sorry you couldn't sit still and pay attention for a couple fucking hours.
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11:10PM on 03/15/2013
I've only seen the Final Cut, how does it fair compared to the rest?
I've only seen the Final Cut, how does it fair compared to the rest?
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9:50AM on 03/17/2013
The final cut is the way that Scott actually wanted to make the movie. There was the theatrical cut which included these seriously dull voice-overs by Deckard. They were included ostensibly to help the audience understand the film, as the original movie was, "too hard to understand," according to the studio. It also had this really crappy closing scene of Rachel and Deckard driving off into the "North." It was nothing but cheese. The Final Cut is perfection, you are not missing much if you
The final cut is the way that Scott actually wanted to make the movie. There was the theatrical cut which included these seriously dull voice-overs by Deckard. They were included ostensibly to help the audience understand the film, as the original movie was, "too hard to understand," according to the studio. It also had this really crappy closing scene of Rachel and Deckard driving off into the "North." It was nothing but cheese. The Final Cut is perfection, you are not missing much if you haven't seen the original. If you really like the film, however, watching the theatrical release is a good way to understand how much Producers can screw up a Directors vision.
10:36PM on 03/15/2013
I've never seen the director's cut, and I think this movie is brilliant. And coming off the success of Star Wars, many were expecting Ford's next picture to be as epic and grand scale, and what they got was this film. So many were upset. My professor who watched this film in the theaters as a child told me about this situation. I first watched this only back in the early 2000s, and I loved it. Still do.
I've never seen the director's cut, and I think this movie is brilliant. And coming off the success of Star Wars, many were expecting Ford's next picture to be as epic and grand scale, and what they got was this film. So many were upset. My professor who watched this film in the theaters as a child told me about this situation. I first watched this only back in the early 2000s, and I loved it. Still do.
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10:43PM on 03/15/2013
How have you never seen the director's cut? The director's cut was the ONLY version available throughout the 90's & 2000's. The theatrical version was not released on DVD till 2007, and even then only as an extra to a special edition of the director's cut.

If you watched Blade Runner in the early 2000s, then you watched the director's cut. That was the only cut available to watch during that time.
How have you never seen the director's cut? The director's cut was the ONLY version available throughout the 90's & 2000's. The theatrical version was not released on DVD till 2007, and even then only as an extra to a special edition of the director's cut.

If you watched Blade Runner in the early 2000s, then you watched the director's cut. That was the only cut available to watch during that time.
8:02AM on 03/16/2013
@Silverload - are you serious? I had the original on VHS and it was the version I grew up with until the Director's Cut was released. It was also available on Laserdisc... and TV.
@Silverload - are you serious? I had the original on VHS and it was the version I grew up with until the Director's Cut was released. It was also available on Laserdisc... and TV.
10:32PM on 03/15/2013
Blade Runner DC is my favorite movie of all time. That being said, I often feel like Blade Runner's success in terms of it's quality, was one big mistake. I don't think anybody knew what they were doing or what was going on.
Blade Runner DC is my favorite movie of all time. That being said, I often feel like Blade Runner's success in terms of it's quality, was one big mistake. I don't think anybody knew what they were doing or what was going on.
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10:10PM on 03/15/2013
This is how I feel about Promotheus. Perfect? No. Intriguing? Yes. Is it Blade Runner? Of course not, but same apprehension. I love the DC of Blade Runner. I love film that makes me think. I love it when it makes me just be entertained. They can do this. Don't think about the public. Think what is right for the story.
This is how I feel about Promotheus. Perfect? No. Intriguing? Yes. Is it Blade Runner? Of course not, but same apprehension. I love the DC of Blade Runner. I love film that makes me think. I love it when it makes me just be entertained. They can do this. Don't think about the public. Think what is right for the story.
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9:51PM on 03/15/2013
This is funny. BR is one of my top 5, I re-watch it a few times a year, especially the newest cut. It looks amazing. This is a true classic. These notes are funny... when you watch the extra stuff on the new version, all these idiots are in there talking up how they knew this was genius work, they stood by it at the time, etc. For all the fact that he is hailed as one of the top film-makers, Scott can't seem to ever catch a break with studios (Kingdom of Heaven anyone?).
This is funny. BR is one of my top 5, I re-watch it a few times a year, especially the newest cut. It looks amazing. This is a true classic. These notes are funny... when you watch the extra stuff on the new version, all these idiots are in there talking up how they knew this was genius work, they stood by it at the time, etc. For all the fact that he is hailed as one of the top film-makers, Scott can't seem to ever catch a break with studios (Kingdom of Heaven anyone?).
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9:41PM on 03/15/2013
I hate to say it, but the theatrical release of Blade Runner wasn't a great movie by any means. Ford even said that his voice over was bad on purpose because the studio forced him and Scott to make that change.

Blade Runner wasn't really considered a good movie until the much improved director's cut was released. The director's cut is one of my favorite films. The theatrical release was mediocre, and that voice over was painful (just as Ford & Scott intended to persuade the studio to cut
I hate to say it, but the theatrical release of Blade Runner wasn't a great movie by any means. Ford even said that his voice over was bad on purpose because the studio forced him and Scott to make that change.

Blade Runner wasn't really considered a good movie until the much improved director's cut was released. The director's cut is one of my favorite films. The theatrical release was mediocre, and that voice over was painful (just as Ford & Scott intended to persuade the studio to cut it, too bad it didn't work).
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12:31AM on 03/16/2013
The voice over ended up being bad, but it wasn't intentional. Ford has gone on record as saying that he did the best job he could.

Unfortunately, what he had to work with was shit. Can't spin garbage into gold.
The voice over ended up being bad, but it wasn't intentional. Ford has gone on record as saying that he did the best job he could.

Unfortunately, what he had to work with was shit. Can't spin garbage into gold.
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