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

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

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.


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