Blade Runner 2049 had all the makings of a cerebral yet exciting sci-fi action blockbuster to kick off the fall season, but instead it suffered the same fate as its predecessor, getting frustratingly low returns week after week that seemed pretty shocking for a film with this kind of star power behind it. Director Denis Villeneuve, like the rest of us, is still trying to wrap his head around it.

While speaking to Yahoo about his newest film, Villeneuve said he was still confused why this movie didn’t make buckets of money and provided a couple theories as to why:

I’m still digesting it. It had the best [reviews] of my life. I never had a movie welcomed like that. At the same time, the box office in the United States was a disappointment, that’s the truth, because those movies are expensive. It will still make tons of money but not enough. The thing I think is that, it was maybe because people were not familiar enough with the universe. And the fact the movie’s long. I don’t know, it’s still a mystery to me.

I think he’s right on the money with all of this, and Blade Runner 2049’s disappointing return on investment probably has to do with a whole bunch of things. I’d add that, for folks who aren’t ride or die fans of it already, the Blade Runner universe can seem a little dense and weird. Plus, it’s not a happy movie, and the sequel also plays on the noir-ish questions the original poses about whether the heroes and villains are more similar than they’d like to think. For your everyday moviegoer, nearly three hours of that, no matter how gorgeously shot, could seem daunting.

But for all that, I don’t think Villeneuve should have changed a thing (except maybe to shave off like 20 minutes or so from the final cut). Hollywood needs more cerebral, difficult movies to balance out the fun comic book fare that are easier to watch. And with Blade Runner 2049 — not to mention Arrival — Villeneuve has proven that he can tango with ridiculously high-concept sci-fis that makes me extremely hopeful for his Dune. Let me tell you, if people were intimidated by spinners and replicants and protein farmers, I can’t wait to see how they deal with Bene Gesserit and sandworms and the Kwisatz Haderach.

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