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'Blade Runner' sequel dreaming of an electric debut

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'Blade Runner' sequel dreaming of an electric debut

In a dystopian future riddled with big-budget sequelitus, only one man could unite film fanatics under recycled intellectual property: Rick Deckard, Blade Runner.

The 1982 film "Blade Runner," inspired by Philip K. Dick's post-apocalyptic novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, was by no means a blockbuster, but its ensuing cult fame could launch the long-awaited sequel "Blade Runner 2049" into that category.

BoxOffice.com projects a $54 million opening weekend, somewhat bullish compared to a $45 million forecast from Deadline Hollywood and a range of $45 million to $50 million from Variety.

The film has potential to outperform these estimates, however. It was tracking at 6x the advance ticket sales of "Arrival," also directed by Denis Villeneuve, and 2x the advance sales of 2015 hit "The Martian," according to MovieTickets.com. The critical response could also add extra momentum. "Blade Runner 2049" was running a 90% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, as of 9 a.m. ET on Oct. 6. The sequel reportedly cost more than $150 million to make.

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"Blade Runner 2049"
Source: Warner Bros.

Some analysts are comparing the film to "Mad Max: Fury Road," a critically acclaimed dystopian flick that opened to $45 million domestically and exited with $378.8 million globally. "Blade Runner 2049" is expected to open with about $55 million internationally for a global rake of $100 million, according to Deadline.

Other comparisons compiled by Kagan average out optimistically. Five films — including other beloved repurposed classics, like "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," "Terminator: Genisys" and "Total Recall" — saw an average weekend opening of $49.9 million on an average production budget of $150.8 million. Those films left theaters with average total revenue of $565.9 million and an average profit margin of 19.9%.

In general, comparisons and forecasts seem to point to another profitable title for Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros. That studio is just coming off a record-breaking September, with "It" driving the total U.S. box office to $708 million. However, to be a success, the new release will have to break out of its predecessor's cult viewership, as BoxOffice.com points out that "Blade Runner 2049's" success could be limited by the esoteric, sci-fi heavy material.

According to BoxOffice.com's forecast, "My Little Pony" from Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., meanwhile, will debut significantly behind "Blade Runner 2049." Variety puts it in a range of $11 million to $13 million. Deadline, however, is looking for a three-night total in a more bullish range of $14 million to $17 million.

Other similar movies like "The Simpsons Movie" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" have done fairly well in theaters. A list of comparisons that includes those titles alongside films like "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie" and "The Rugrats Movie" showed an average opening of $32.2 million, leading to average total revenue of $403.6 million and an average profit margin of 41.6%. But it could be difficult for "My Little Pony" to reach that profitability with forecasts for such a muted comparative opening. The studio did not disclose a production budget for the title.

"My Little Pony" was running a barely "fresh" rating of 68% on Rotten Tomatoes, as of 9 a.m. ET on Oct. 6.

BoxOffice.com puts the third debut film, "The Mountain Between Us," well behind "My Little Pony" on a weekend forecast of $9 million. However, Variety gives it the same estimate as its animated competition and Deadline is a little more bullish with a forecast range of $11 million to $12 million.

The adventure drama follows victims of a plane crash stranded in frozen Utah mountains, and it compares well with other wilderness romps like "Eight Below," "The Grey" and "Flight of the Phoenix." But a list of comparisons compiled by Kagan including those films does not bode particularly well for new release, with an average profit margin of just 1.7%. That margin came on an average opening gross and average production cost similar to projections for "The Mountain Between Us."

Also not supporting any upside, the film had lackluster response from critics, averaging to a 51% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

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