Geoffrey Macnab: Are you ready for Ridley Scott, the 'brand'?

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The British and the Americans have different attitudes toward the idea of sequels and prequels. If a film is seen as a classic, the Brits tend to leave it alone for fear of tarnishing the original's reputation. For the Americans, the key question is whether there is money still on the table.

Alcon Entertainment is proposing is to turn Blade Runner, Ridley Scott's revered adaptation of Philip K Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, into a brand.

The company is talking in terms of a "franchise" and of "multi-platform concepts," which could mean Blade Runner mutating into computer games, animated series and iPad apps. If new films are made, it is almost inevitable that the follow-ups won't be a patch on Scott's film. But they will likely find a mass audience.

Should we be upset? The answer is, surely, no. Blade Runner was a film about replicants, so we shouldn't be surprised that a new generation of producers wants to replicate it. Thanks to the clones of Blade Runner, in whichever form they may appear, a younger audience will be guided toward the Ridley Scott movie.

Sean Young, Rutger Hauer and Daryl Hannah, who all enjoyed cult status thanks to their turns as androids, will be pushed back into the limelight. Harrison Ford clashed with Scott during shooting and for 30 years he has ignored a film he didn't enjoy making and he is unlikely to pay much attention to sequels either.

In the mid-1990s, the British producer Andrew Macdonald complained about the British aversion to sequels. He said he would have no problem with making a follow-up to Trainspotting (an ambition still being pursued today). It made commercial sense, he added.

More recently, British company Optimum had no compunctions about remaking Brighton Rock. If you can secure rights to a film that has already been successful, there is an obvious and immediate upside.

After all, in the film industry, every new project is a prototype. You can't just hit on a formula that works then mass-manufacture it. That's why sequels and prequels to movies that have already proved their mettle seem so attractive; they're a way for producers to hedge their bets.

In the era of the Xbox and the PlayStation, when the boundaries between computer games and feature films is fast blurring, Blade Runner is an obvious property to revisit.