Well, this couldn't have been very encouraging to Ridley Scott.
These days pretty much everyone regards Blade Runner as a classic, one of the greatest science fiction films ever made, but at its 1982 release it was famously divisive. Some praised it as a visionary masterpiece, while others dubbed it "Blade Crawler" for its slow pacing. There were a lot of Blade Runner haters around in '82, and it turns out some of them were major players in one of the film's production companies.
The document below is taken from a Blade Runner screening in January of '82, just months before the film hit theaters. Jerry Perenchio, Bud Yorkin and Robin French, all executives at Tandem Productions (which co-produced the film with The Ladd Company and Hong Kong producer Sir Run Run Shaw), were among the key players viewing the screening, and made sure their thoughts on the film were documented. So, what'd they think? Well ... it wasn't pretty. You can read the full list of notes in the image below, but here are a few highlights:
- They called the film's voice-over "terrible" and feared the audience would "fall asleep."
- One of them said "This movie gets worse every screening," while another said "This picture gets duller every time we see it ..."
- They made numerous references to the film's slow pacing.
- They ended their comments with a recommendation that the film be recut ... and not by Ridley Scott. In fact, one of the final thoughts is a recommendation that Yorkin and French travel to London recut the film with "just" supervising editor Terry Rawlings, meaning Scott would have been left out of the process.
- The document's final thought: "Ridley and crew have had three cuts and still have not done what was agreed now they should do it themselves."
Ouch. It's hard to tell which of the execs was hardest on the film, or exactly how much control they had over what Scott did (they were, after all, only working for one of three entities financing the film), but this document is definitely proof that Blade Runner wasn't an easy sell.