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Blade Runner 2049 Was Originally A Four Hour, Two Part Movie

This post contains some spoilers for Blade Runner 2049.

Going by the movie's disappointing box office returns, there's a decent chance you slept on Blade Runner 2049—at least for its theatrical run. But had it not been for some canny editing, the Blade Runner sequel's daunting length of 163 minutes could've run off a whole lot more people when the sci-fi epic was released in October, according to a freewheeling interview with the film's editor.

According to an interview with editor Joe Walker conducted by Steve Hullfish for Provideo Coalition, the original cut of the movie ran to nearly four hours long, and was at first sliced into and screened in two separate parts while the production team tried to figure out how to wrangle all of the footage into something both hypnotic, coherent, and not too overlong.

Walker said that breaking the movie into two separate parts "revealed something about the story—it's in two halves. There's K discovering his true past as he sees it, and at the halfway mark he kind of loses his virginity. The next morning, it's a different story, about meeting your maker and ultimately sacrifice—'dying is the most human thing we do.'"

Massive assembly cuts for movies aren't out of the ordinary, of course—when constructing a movie, filmmakers put all of their available footage in order and begin hacking away. But Walker says that the split version of Blade Runner 2049 revealed interesting symmetry between the movie's first and second halves that almost caused them to make the split version a little more official.

"We toyed with giving titles to each half but quickly dropped that," Walker said.

The interview is worth checking out for the wisdom Walker shares about how a movie's long length doesn't necessarily correlate to a movie that feels long, noting that edits of the movie that would have made it shorter made it feel longer, the movie's deliberate dreamlike pace being thrown off and compromised for the sake of plot. 

Most shocking of all, you'll likely never see this massive assembly version of the movie. According to director Denis Villeneuve, the Blade Runner 2049 theatrical cut is the director's cut—no repeats of the original movie's multiple versions this time around. According to Walker, it's likely there won't even be an hour's worth of extra footage.

"Denis doesn't like deleted scenes on BluRays," Walker said.  "And I tend to agree."

We're sure the version of the movie that we got—which is, while a time commitment, pretty fantastic—is the best version of the movie that we could've hoped for. Still, it's interesting to wonder what it would have been like had Villeneuve and company taken the idea of a sci-fi epic and really stretched it—and its audience—to its furthest limit.

We'll see if any extra footage actually does slip out when Blade Runner 2049 hits home media.