Amazon Studios is reportedly working on a Blade Runner live-action series to bring the cyberpunk vison of the future to the small screen.
Deadline reported that Ridley Scott, director of 1982’s original Blade Runner movie, will be the executive producer of the series, which will be called Blade Runner 2099 and will follow on from 2017’s Blade Runner 2049.
This is somewhat promising, as it means there could be a strong hand on the tiller to keep the series in the same vein as the movies. There's also a chance that Scott could even direct the series if it does move forward with Amazon Studios.
Apparently, Amazon is working on fast-tracking scripts and chewing over potential production dates; as it stands we have no strong idea of when such a series could be released.
Retire or replicate?
But the biggest question on my lips and potentially those of Blade Runner fans: Should Amazon, or indeed anyone, be doing this?
Both Blade Runner films were masterpieces of movie work, dripping with atmosphere, evocative visuals and a powerful score. I’d argue they were lightning-in-a-bottle movies, and that trying to extract a move out of the Blade Runner story could tarnish it somewhat.
There’s an argument that we’ve seen this a little with the Star Wars franchise. Some of the live-action series like The Book of Boba Fett have been criticized for leaning a little too heavily on the characters and story beats of the movies rather than forging their own path.
The same could be said for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with a seemingly endless flow of series, movies, games and spin-offs. But there's such a depth of material to draw upon it’s not such a problem, unless you’re my colleague Marshall Honorof who reckons the MCU needs to die.
Equally, getting the cyberpunk vibe right can be very tricky. Cyberpunk 2077 created a believable setting, but didn’t quite make the semi-dystopian game we were hoping for. And Netflix's Altered Carbon has some lush visuals but fell a bit flat on the story front, with it only lasting two seasons.
I really don’t want to see the Blade Runner legacy despoiled with a lackluster TV series. After all, last year saw the release of Japanese-American anime series Blade Runner: Black Lotus, which didn't exactly gain masses of critical acclaim.
Having said that, Amazon is no newcomer to sci-fi. Amazon took over the production of The Expanse in 2018, rescuing it from cancellation by SyFy and producing a further three series before its finale at the start of the year. I loved The Expanse, whose cast, visuals, action and storytelling all delivered a hard sci-fi story that was difficult to take my eyes off of. In fact, I liked it so much I went and bought a model of the hero ship the Rocinante (photo below).
So there's definitely scope for Amazon to take the Blade Runner setting and really dig into it to uncover new story threads framed around the overarching conceit of what makes a human human. With Scott’s influence, the core of what makes Blade Runner great could be neatly translated from the silver screen onto our TV screens.
It's very early days, and with word on cast or much else, all I have is some speculation and idle thoughts to chew over. Amazon Studios is also working on The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, which has an enormous $465 million budget, so I'm curious to see how that turns out as it could set the benchmark for future series to either reach or ensure they surpass.
If Amazon can translate Lord of The Rings into an effective TV series, it could stoke up a good bit of excitement from me for Blade Runner 2099.