Happy 25th, ‘Blade Runner’!

posted by Coate on June 25, 2007 at 11:50 am

On June 25, 1982, twenty-five years ago today, Blade Runner was released. The film, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, opened in 1,295 theatres in the United States and Canada, ten of which showed the film in 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo*. It opened to mixed reviews and would gross a paltry $27 million. The film did, however, receive numerous movie-industry award nominations, including Academy Award nods for Art Direction and Visual Effects.

Anyone see it in its (brief) theatrical run? Any memories you care to share? Me? Believe it or not, I did not see Blade Runner in its original theatrical run. I had wanted to see it, but a couple of things got in the way: (1) the film’s R rating (I was 13 at the time), and (2) E.T.

As a sci-fi/fantasy buff and a big fan of Harrison Ford’s Han Solo and Indiana Jones performances, I had every intention of seeing Blade Runner. I recall pre-release coverage in magazines like Starlog, but was disappointed upon learning of its R rating. And since my folks had no intention of taking me to see it, the only way I was to see Blade Runner was if I snuck in. (I suspect my parents regretted taking me to see R-rated fare like Saturday Night Fever, Slap Shot and The Deer Hunter, films I probably had no business seeing at a young age.)

So, on a weekend in July of ‘82 at the now demolished Movies 7 in Victorville, California, the plan was to purchase a ticket to E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, which I had not yet seen, then, following E.T., I would sneak into the auditorium showing Blade Runner. I had made arrangements to have my folks pick me up about 4 or 5 hours after dropping me off, allowing me time to see two movies. The hiccup: I was so overwhelmed by E.T that I failed to leave the theatre, instead staying through the break and watching E.T a second time! (I would end up seeing E.T. nine more times that year.) And, unfortunately, because Blade Runner performed poorly at the box office, the film was gone by the next time I went to the movies.

We didn’t have a VCR at the time, but thanks to cable movie channels like HBO, I did finally see Blade Runner about a year after its original run in the theatre. But, I hated the movie! I thought at the time Harrison Ford played an unsympathetic character and the movie didn’t have enough action or fantasy elements to hold my interest. (I did enjoy Joanna Cassidy’s nude scene, though!)

But, as the years went on, additional exposure to Blade Runner through TV broadcasts, the great Criterion Collection laserdisc, the Fairfax Theatre’s infamous 1990 screening of the test print, and the book Future Noir: The Making Of Blade Runner allowed me to come to the realization that the film is quite good and deserving of the status of a classic, justifying in my mind celebrating the film on this, the 25th anniversary of its original release.

I’m looking forward to seeing the 25th anniversary, multi-disc DVD due out later this year and which is scheduled to include as many as five(!) different cuts of the film. There’s also been some talk of a theatrical re-release in selected markets, possibly in D-Cinema and/or IMAX.

*For the technology and history buffs, here are the original 70mm bookings of Blade Runner:

Chicago, IL: Esquire
Corte Madera, CA: Cinema
Los Angeles, CA: Hollywood
Los Angeles, CA: Bruin
New York, NY: Criterion Center
New York, NY: Murray Hill
Pasadena, CA: Hastings
San Francisco, CA: Coronet
San Jose, CA: Century 22
Seattle, WA: Cinerama

The film’s 70mm test screenings took place in Denver (Continental), Dallas (Northpark), and San Diego (Cinema 21), but I do not have confirmation that the final release version ran there in 70mm. The trades reported ten 70mm prints in circulation and, as you can see, ten are accounted for, but something tells me there were a few more than ten.

Comments (19)

HowardBHaas on June 25, 2007 at 11:58 am

I wasn’t impressed with it on TV. Blade Runner was very impressive in 1998 on the huge screen at the Uptown in Washington D.C. albeit in 35 mm because it was part of Warner Brothers 75th Anniv & none of those films arrived in 70 mm. At least some of your listings above indicate that the movie in 1982 didn’t get the largest widest screens that it does deserve.

I’d hope, even if limited release, a re-release in 70 mm could be possible, including at the D.C. Uptown.

SteveJKo on June 25, 2007 at 12:23 pm

In 1982 I did see it on a large screen, but in 35mm scope. My opinion of the film both then and now is that it’s great look at, but that’s about it.

PeterApruzzese on June 25, 2007 at 12:31 pm

Blade Runner is still a great picture, but only in its original theatrical version, not the subsequent “director’s cut” nonsense. Saw it opening day at the Loews Secaucus 6, which was also the opening week for that theatre complex, IIRC; it was 35mm mono. Was so impressed that I went into Manhattan to see it in 70mm at the Criterion Center.

I ran ET at its first sneak preview at the Cinema 46 in Totowa and did not like it then and now. Still can’t understand how a remake of Lassie Come Home became the biggest box office hit of all time :)

Eric Friedmann
Eric Friedmann on June 25, 2007 at 12:35 pm

BLADE RUNNER – one of my favorite sci-fi movies, one of my top-ten favorite movies of the 1980’s and a subject I like to talk about.

I did see it in 1982 when it opened at the Hampton Arts Theatre in Westhampton Beach, Long Island, New York (it was a single screen back then). I was fifteen years-old. My mother dropped me and my little brother off at the theater and asked another grown up to take us in to this R-rated feature.

Although I had grown up with the sci-fi action of films like STAR WARS and MOONRAKER, I could immediately see that there was something special about this dark sci-fi noir-type film. The visuals and cinematography spoke for themselves, of course, and I was immediately taken with the score by Vangelis (fresh off of his CHARIOTS OF FIRE success). In fact, I waited eagerly to buy the soundtrack on record album (Yes, that’s right! I said record album!) and was inevitably disappointed to see that they’d released a cover version of the soundtrack; not Vangelis.

Before being broadcasted on HBO, BLADE RUNNER had its debut on video cassette with extra scenes of added violence and gore that were not shown in theaters. By 1992, when it was re-released in theaters as a Director’s Cut, BLADE RUNNER, in my opinion, was already going through what I like to call the “George Lucas revisions”. By then, you had three different version of the film; 1982 theatrical, 1980’s video and 1992 theatrical.

I consider myself a film purist, so I’ve always preferred the original 1982 version, complete with Rick Deckard’s narration and the Hollywood happy ending in the snowy mountains (borrowed from THE SHINING). The narration gives the film more of the classic film noir flavor that BLADE RUNNER is now famous for. And in the bleak, grim Los Angeles world of 2019, isn’t it nice to know that the sun still shines in some places?

Today, I own two versions of BLADE RUNNER; the current DVD Director’s Cut with full and widescreen options AND a video cassette version from the ‘80’s that I described earlier.

I hope the film is re-released for it’s 25th anniversary. I’d love to see it on the big screen again!

“I don’t know why he saved my life. Maybe in those last moments, he loved life more than he ever had before. Not just his life…my life…anybody’s life. All he wanted were the same answers the rest of us want; Who am I? Where am I going? How long have I got? All I could do was sit there and watch him die."
– Rick Deckard, BLADE RUNNER (1982 version)

CinemarkFan on June 25, 2007 at 12:40 pm

I’m only 17, so the first time I saw Blade Runner was about 10 years ago on my oldest brother’s recording off Showtime. I loved it. The look, the acting, everything about the movie. Here’s something funny: 25 years ago in July, my Dad took my then pregnant Mom (who was pregnant with my third bro) & two brothers to see this, along with Enter the Ninja at the then Ford City 3 in Chicago. It was a two-for one special, and Ninja started first. Of course, they all enjoyed Blade Runner and laughed at how bad Ninja was. Whenever they talk about that day, I wish I had a time machine so I could go with them.

Happy 25th Blade Runner!

moviejs on June 25, 2007 at 12:56 pm

Saw “Blade Runner” at the North Park Twin Cinema (now a nightclub) in Evansville, IN, during it’s original run. It was the 35mm version (severly cropped on either side due to the long and narrow dimensions of the North Park) and I remember liking the visual look of the thing, the intense and thrilling action scenes and enjoying the noir-like narration. I hear that some kind of rerelease is planned soon, and hope that the narration is restored. Wouldn’t it look fantastic in IMAX 3-D?

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on June 25, 2007 at 1:01 pm

I saw it in 35mm first run and fell in love with it immediately. I could not figure out why everyone was not equally stunned by its realistic premise and settings and preferred fairy tale sci-fi instead.

Favorite quote:
“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.”

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on June 25, 2007 at 3:07 pm

Like Pete Apruzzese, I too saw “Blade Runner” on opening night at the Loew’s Meadows 6 in Secaucus NJ. The screen wasn’t opened all the way for anamorphic widescreen 2.35:1 until about 30 minutes into the picture (opening night glitches, I guess). I had read Philip K. Dick’s novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” and was very disappointed that the movie was nothing like the book. It also seemed to be a comedown from Ridley Scott’s last film, “Alien”. In the years since, I’ve come to appreciate “Blade Runner” for the good movie it is without all that baggage I brought to it in 1982, but it never seemed like a truly great film to me. Its fans should be happy to know it just got included in the new edition of the AFI Top 100 Movies list for the first time.

markinthedark on June 25, 2007 at 5:24 pm

I saw Blade Runner during its initial release in 1982 at the SRO Tacoma West Cinemas, Tacoma WA (Screen 1, on the right). I was 12 years, and accompanied by my mother who I had convinced to take me since the film had an R rating. Presenation was 35MM Dolby Stereo, proper 2.35:1 masking, (something SRO was good at). I was disappointed it did not play at the Tacoma Mall Twin, which usually got big blockbusters in the summer.

Although I fell in love immediately with the visuals, effects, sound, music and mood of the film, because of my youth the meanings and themes of the story went right over my head. Of, course, now it is one of my favorite films and it truly is a masterpiece (in any cut).

My personal Blade Runner Collection: Director’s Cut DVD (widescreen), Original Cut Criterion Laserdisc (widescreen), “additional gore” Embassy Home Video VHS (pan and scan). I also have the original souvenir magazine which I bought with my hard-earned allowance at the theatre.

I have seen the “Director’s Cut” 3 times on the big screen, at 3 different theatres that are now closed: Act III Newport Cinemas, Spokane WA (Dolby Stereo), Act III Everett 9 Cinemas, Everett WA (THX Dolby Stereo), UA Cinema 150, Seattle WA (Dolby Stereo).

JodarMovieFan on June 25, 2007 at 6:29 pm

As with some of the other posts, my friend and I were too young to get in to see this movie the proper way. With a little creative thinking, we purchased tickets for another movie that was showing either at or the same time and snuck in to see it at a AMC shoebox theater that did have Dolby Stereo.

My interest in the movie was primarily the visual effects. Being a Starlog subscriber at the time and a sporadic Cinefex reader, I became an admirer of the work of Douglas Trumbull and followed his career with great interest. Of particular interest with Trumubull’s work is his belief, at the time, that he was a firm believer in shooting visual effects work in 65mm to capture greater detail as opposed to 35mm. I believe he stated in an interview that Ridley Scott had used the delivered 65mm visual effects footage directly into the 70mm prints, as opposed to having them reduced to 35mm and then blown up to 70mm release prints as was the usual practice in the day. I firmly believe that the quality of the effects made by his EEG company (CE3K, the first Star Trek movie, Blade Runner, Ghostbusters, Poltergeist II) are far better in film quality than anything ILM delivered for Lucas or for others. Sure, the Star Wars saga won the awards but I think it was more a popularity contest than for presentation quality and true merit.

My first impression on viewing the movie was depressing. It was dark. Everything was dark. It rained. Deckard delievered his lines in monotone. More darkness, rain. But the visual effects were sooo cool. The spinner cars, with their lens flare lighting fx and the look of LA were breathtaking. Even the Tyrell building in its enormity and Tyrell’s apartment in its expanse. Vangelis' score was eerie, moody, atmospheric and sexy (the Rachel theme).

1982 was the year of E.T. and Gandhi. Now someone explain why ET won for Best Visual FX when it was just the animatronic Carlo Rombaldi puppet, blue screen and some stop motion work???? And John Williams, again, over Vangelis' terrific score? On the latter, I suspect the Academy felt Vangelis' was awarded enough for the previous year’s Chariots of Fire.

In 1991 or ‘92, the Uptown had the Director’s Cut. It was a privilege to see the different version on a very large screen even though it was just 35mm. Without the narration, the film seemed a little open ended as to what was supposed to be going on and the revised ending, for sure, was less 'happy’ than the original one. The audience I saw it with seemed to be unmoved by anything they had just seen as no one applauded at the end of the screening.

Supposedly, there’s a new edition in the works for a Ultimate DVD version. It would be great to revisit this movie in theaters in Digital Projection or, if Ridley Scott is working with a 65mm original negative…70mm theatrical print (I’m not holding my breath) prior to the Ultimate version DVD. If they go the DP route, they should do a 3D version given that there are more than 1000 3D Digital cinemas now and would make this re-release an event to be experienced.

vic1964 on June 25, 2007 at 7:35 pm

I saw it first run at the Capitol in London Ontario and then later at our famous Park theatre in a 70mm double feature BLADE RUNNER and THE ROAD WARRIOR!My friends and i went many times.I ran it as a projectionist at the New Yorker in the 90s many times.

Michael Furlinger
Michael Furlinger on June 25, 2007 at 8:20 pm

Saw it at Centurys Shore theater in huntington ny….

Bartstar on June 25, 2007 at 9:07 pm

I remember when “Blade Runner” first opened, I had seen some coming attractions for it and I said to myself, “ I MUST see this movie”. A friend and I had made plans to see it on Sat. night. I felt it in my bones that I would “really' like this film and I also knew that probably most other people would not.

I just wanted to lose myself in the visual experience of the film and I didn’t want to have anyone else’s “vibes” or “restlessness” disturbing my complete immersion in the film. Rememeber, I hadn’t heard that much about the film. I just knew it was something I had to experience alone. So, on Fri. night I went to see “Blade Runner” all alone.

I was overwhelmed by the visuals and the sound. I remember later reading a review that talked about “…images of such staggering beauty that they verge on the hurtful”. That, I believe, says it all.

The next night I met my friend Carlos for a drink before going to see “Blade Runner” as we had planned. I wasn’t sure if I should tell him that I went to see it the night before, because I would have to explain the reason why; that I didn’t want his “vibes” to distract me from my enjoyment of the movie. (I was right, he didn’t like it as much as I did.) I finally admitted that I had seen it the night before, but I downplayed the real reason why.

I gave him my impression of the movie. The script was a bit weak and didn’t completely explore intriguing philosophical questions about “what does it mean to be human?”, “where are the dividing lines and who decides who goes in which category?” I also told him about the amazing visuals and sound, which for me at least, trumps any weakness in the story.

Amazingly, quite a few of my friends had a negative reaction the first time they saw “Blade Runner”. Although most of them eventually came around and later appreciated the multilayered experience of the film. People that have only seen it on TV or videotape can only get a fraction of the experience of seeing it on the big screen. For years, I watched my videotape copy in VHS Hi-F connected to my stereo system, which was supposed to have such great sound reproduction. But then, I watched it on DVD. It was the first movie I ever bought on DVD, long before I had a DVD player (yes, they were still expensive at the time, not the $29.95 player you can pick up at the corner drugstore nowadays). I was blown away again by the sound quality. I was hearing things that I hadn’t heard since I saw it on the big screen in 1982. Certain things that sounded muddled on VHS Hi-Fi were now crystal clear on DVD.

I don’t believe in having a strict list of rating movies as “ my favorite movie ever” , “my second favorite”, etc. Film has such great variety and there so many different elements that come together to create a cherished unforgettable experience. I’m too eclectic to only like certain type of movies. Although, I must admit that “Blade Runner” is one of my favorites and is way up there on that list in my head that I refuse to make up and set in stone.

Eric Friedmann
Eric Friedmann on June 26, 2007 at 1:17 pm

M. Coate – SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER was my first R-rated movie. I was ten years-old. My mother almost made us leave the theater because of the heavy profanity. Even by today’s standards, the profanity and racial slurs are still pretty raw.

A year and a half later, I remember seeing it again in the theater; the PG version! Even at age 11, I could already recognize what a butchered editing job the studio did to get the younger audience to see it.

That movie will be 30 years old come December 2007. I hope the original R-rated version is re-released in theaters.

Interestingly, by the time I saw BLADE RUNNER in 1982, it was only my fourth R-rated movie. AND JUSTICE FOR ALL and THE BLUES BROTHERS were 2 and 3.

JSA on June 26, 2007 at 2:45 pm

I did not see “Blade Runner” until its initial VHS release. Its production design (LA’s Bradbury Building looks terrific!), knockout cinematography and special effects stood out even on the small screen. In my opinion, Rutger Hauer’s performance was brilliant. Ford seemed rather flat. The subsequent versions (i.e. Director’s Cut, Special Cut, and on and on) did not do much for me. I highly recommend the original source: Philip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” There will be a limited theatrical release of the “Final Cut” this fall.

As for ET, I only saw it once. Enough said.


andysummers on November 23, 2007 at 9:51 am

I’ve seen only a 35mm 2.35:1 scope Dolby Stereo A type at the local ABC cinema here in Bournemouth back in 1982. Over the years I’ve waited for the original 1982 version to come to DVD with the original 1982 Dolby stereo six-track mix, if Mr. Scott can accommodate my needs in that department well done is all I can say. If he can’t and if I don’t like the theatrical version, with this so called 5 disc DVD set, I guess I will become even more cautious of buying future DVD and I doubt HD or Bluray is any better.

Over years this become a cult film in the VHS tape world and then later with laserdisc editions. I own a 1992 CAV laserdisc edition which is the “directors cut” it sucks because of the ending and the narrative track. So what big deal, there’s plenty of other films that use lots and lots of narrative, “Casio” “Gangs of New York” “Last Man Standing” “Titanic” and so. I only like Blade runner for what it once was when seeing it in the cinema a good piece of science fiction escapism, even if it was dark and depression, (PK Dick) wasn’t far off the mark about the future.

andysummers on November 23, 2007 at 9:58 am

I was browsing thou the internet and found this link to a few selected cinemas in the UK that is playing Blade Runner on a limited run. Why isn’t this playing at the VUE in London in THX?

View link

MontyM on August 3, 2009 at 7:02 pm

Blade Runner played in Denver at the Cooper Cinerama Theater. It was in Dolby Stereo but don’t remember 70mm. I’m thinking if the test screening was in 70mm at the Continental, maybe the same print was sent to the Cooper and it’s engagement was in 70mm.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on July 6, 2010 at 6:43 pm

I watched “BLADE RUNNER” on VHS,so i know that is a major strike against me,but hard as i tried,I just didn’t get into it.I am not saying it was a bad movie,It just did not appeal to me.

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