Blade Runner: Time to replicate the replicants...

As Hollywood banks on sequels, Warner is planning to make Blade Runner 2. Tom Peck gets a glimpse of the future

This sounds dangerous. A sci-fi film set in the distant future made in the recent past will now in the near future be the subject of a prequel set in what was once the distant future of the recent past, then a sequel set beyond that distant future.

Warner Bros are in the final stages of acquiring the film and television rights to produce sequels and prequels of Ridley Scott's cult 1982 movie Blade Runner. And if Hollywood succeeds where the Large Hadron Collider failed and finally sucks all life down a breach in the space time continuum, one thing at least is highly likely: they'll have made a lot of money doing it.

Warner-based production outfit Alcon Entertainment, who were behind the recent remake of The Wicker Man, are negotiating for the rights. Details are at the moment sparing but a statement released yesterday claims, no doubt to the relief of Blade Runner's many fans, that a straight remake is off the cards.

"Alcon's franchise rights would be all-inclusive, but exclude rights to remake the original," said a statement carried by Slashfilm.com. "The company, however, may produce projects based on situations introduced in the original film. The project would be distributed domestically by Warner Bros. International rights are yet to be determined."

Alcon co-founders Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove have described the deal as a "major acquisition" for the company. "We recognise the responsibility we have to do justice to the memory of the original with any prequel or sequel we produce. We have long-term goals for the franchise, and are exploring multi-platform concepts, not just limiting ourselves to one medium," they said.

Multi-platform concepts can only mean video games and apps for phones and tablets, which may give fans cause for concern. When the original film was released in 1982 it garnered a mixed reaction, but has since gained "cult classic" status. But such was its popularity as a VHS rental throughout the Eighties, it became one of the first films to be released on DVD.

Set in a dystopian Los Angeles of 2019, the film concerns a group of "replicants" – artificially engineered humanoids who have illegally returned to Earth from their work on man's "off-world colonies". Enter recently retired special police operative, "Blade Runner" Harrison Ford, who returns from retirement for one last job to hunt them down. Ridley Scott has called it his "most complete and personal film".

There is as yet no indication that the director would be involved with any revisiting of the movie, though the film's would-be producers said it would be "wonderful". At the moment Mr Scott is busy with Prometheus, a prequel to his Alien, which spawned one of the most successful franchises of all time.

Though the original Blade Runner may be off-limits, the deal is nonetheless true to the prevailing wind that has been blowing through Hollywood for some years. Spider-Man, Transformers, The A Team, Ocean's Eleven – 12 and 13 – have all brought big returns. Unsurprsingly then, the news has been greeted with some scepticism by Blade Runner fans, not that it would stop them flocking to the cinema regardless. Especially when what a prequel to Blade Runner would entail has provoked such a mouth-watering discussion. "I imagine a new film would probably look at how the replicants got to earth," said Ian Nathan, executive editor of Empire magazine. "You could also follow the stories of Blade Runners in different places. There's the potential for film noiry police thriller-type stuff."

In the film's most memorable moment, replicant Roy Batty, played by Rutger Hauer, tells Harrison Ford: "I've seen things you 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..." Tantalising options indeed for any director, they may well be lost in time no longer, but coming to a big screen near you.

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