Director Says CGI Will Take a Back Seat to Practical Effects in Blade Runner 2049

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Blade Runner is considered the pinnacle of scifi filmmaking, and one of the most visually influential movies of all time. But in the age of CGI, it’s getting harder to find films that are willing to stick with the practical effects that helped make Blade Runner a cinematic legend. Luckily, the sequel’s director has promised a return to Blade Runner’s roots.


“I think I can count on one hand how many times I saw a green screen in all of those months of shooting,” he said. “There will be CG enhancements, of course, but as much as possible it was in-camera.”

Director Denis Villeneuve told Variety that Blade Runner 2049, the long-awaited sequel starring Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling, has prioritized practical camerawork and special effects during the filming process. He said he’s very “old school” and prefers to work with sets and practical effects, rather than relying on green screens and CGI.

“I hate green screens. It sucks out all my energy. I get depressed,” Villeneuve said. “For Blade Runner, we tried our best to do as much as possible in-camera, building everything.”

Villeneuve added that one of his biggest regrets for Arrival was that they had to go with CGI aliens, saying he would’ve preferred a “gigantic aquarium with gigantic beasts that would be moved by puppeteers,” but that they didn’t have the budget for that. Well, considering that Blade Runner 2049 is being called one of the most expensive R-rated films ever made, it looks like they have the budget this time around.

It’s clear that Villeneuve has a deep love and admiration for Blade Runner. In 2015, he said it was “almost a religion” to him. And given how many movies are using and abusing CGI in order to create their worlds, it’s encouraging to see how dedicated he and his team are to honoring the legacy of Sir Ridley Scott’s iconic film.

Blade Runner 2049 comes out October 6.





Maybe I’m missing something or I don’t have the eye for it, but it seems to me that CGI today is totally fine. Sure there’s bad CGI, and people rightfully complain about it, but maybe that’s just because they only see the bad CGI.

I mean, whatever works. If a director wants (and has the budget for) all practical effects, that’s great. But let’s not assume CGI is inherently bad. It’s not.