'Blade Runner 2049' Losses Could Hit $80 Million for Producer Alcon

Blade Runner Ryan - Photofest - H 2017
Warner Bros./Photofest
The sequel to the 1982 cult classic will earn far less than its $400 million goal.

Alcon Entertainment and Sony's Blade Runner 2049 had everything going for it — an acclaimed director (Denis Villeneuve), A-list stars (Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford) and a fresh 88 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. But the 164-minute sequel, opening 35 years after Ridley Scott's cult classic hit theaters, didn't deliver at the box office.

Alcon and its investors are facing about $80 million in losses, insiders close to the project tell The Hollywood Reporter. As it winds down its run, the movie movie's global gross through Nov. 5 was $240.6 million.

That's a poor showing for a film that cost $155 million to produce after rebates and tax incentives and before marketing. But Sony is ultimately expected to recoup its $110 million investment in the Alcon production because of the agreement brokered by Sony Motion Picture Group chairman Tom Rothman.

The studio is the first to get back any revenue in exchange for giving up a bigger slice of back-end profits. The deal is proving to be fortuitous for Sony, which in addition to co-financing Blade Runner 2049 is releasing it overseas. (The film is being handled in North America by Warner Bros. via its long-standing distribution deal with Alcon. Warners is not a co-financier.)

“The first film was very much a cult classic, which translates into a nice film. Despite this film’s excellent reviews, it could not really grow the audience beyond its core,” says Wall Street analyst Eric Handler of MKM Partners.

Blade Runner's losses could be minimized over time if ancillary revenues are particularly strong

Sony declined comment. Alcon also declined to comment, including as to what Blade Runner's performance means for the company, founded 20 years ago by producers Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson after convincing FedEx founder Fred Smith to go into business with them and set up shop in Hollywood. The duo, along with Smith, remain the sole shareholders in the production company. After largely subsisting on midrange movies, Blade Runner 2049 was intended to transform Alcon by giving it a franchise.

On the eve the film’s Oct. 6, Kosove and Johnson told The Hollywood Reporter that the movie would need to earn $400 million globally to be a win. “This is a chips-in-the-center-of-the-table exercise," Kosove said at the time.

A version of this story first appeared in the Nov. 1 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.