This is the next entry in a Theatre… a Movie… and a Time, a series that was begun here. This one covers a sci-fi film, one that’ll celebrate its three decade anniversary next year, praised almost universally now (like my previous entry). However, it split many film critics and the director’s own fans from the moment of its theatrical release.
“Sushi. That’s what my ex-wife called me – cold fish.” ~ Rick Deckard’s orphaned quote from the theatrical cut of the film
June 25, 1982: Director Ridley Scott blew away so many with his exceptional sci-fi horror motion picture, Alien, back in 1979. Me included, as I documented with my own experience with the film a while back. So, there was no way my friends at work and I were going to missed his very next feature. As well, its movie trailer had all of us on-the-job film followers giddy and even more than intrigued.
Therefore, a half dozen of us planned to leave right after work that same Friday of Blade Runner‘s wide release. We picked the Hollywood Theatre1 because it was one of the few showing the picture in magnificent 70mm for all its widescreen beauty, high-tech sound system, along with the fact that it was fairly close to work. Not too distant from where we all lived at the time, besides.
A few of us had seen some of the movie reviews offered by critics that day in local newspapers2. Of the ones I read, all were bad. Sheila Benson, then working at the L.A. Times, infamously called it “Blade Crawler”. I’ll never forget that review title. We arrived for the evening screening — somewhere between 5 and 6 PM. For a big movie release, the movie hall was surprisingly sparsely attended.
I’d estimate the hall was a just third full for the showing. Afterwards, out of the six of us, four disliked the film outright — two of them put it the despised category. Another girl and I liked (not loved) its film noirish quality, but we both felt the trailer and the film’s promotion (along with our memories of Alien) set up an expectation this theatrical cut just couldn’t meet.
Later, the many re-cut versions of Blade Runner would go on to resuscitate the film, but that took years. Ridley’s initial release of this film divided this faction of movie-goers…big time. As a group, we never set foot to another film together thereafter.