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‘Blade Runner 2049’ Director Says They Rarely Used a Green Screen on Set

Fret not, worrisome humans, when Blade Runner 2049 hits theaters next year, Replicants will be hunted down with all the gritty luxury that an R rating affords. Granted it shouldn’t be bombshell news that a sequel to an R-rated movie is also rated R, but we live in an age where such things are no longer guarantees. The more expensive a movie is, the harder it becomes to justify its R rating. This is why movies like Alien vs. Predator and Live Free or Die Hard opted for tamer PG-13 ratings.

But rating concerns are shifting these days. R ratings are no longer seen as a shackle to a film’s potential box office. In some cases, it’s even seen as a boon. Deadpool is the most cited example, but it’s hardly the first movie to use the rating to earn some word-of-mouth cred. The Conjuring touted its R as proof that it wasn’t your average haunted-house movie. Bridesmaids played up its R rating to huge success. These days it basically means, “We know you want to see some stuff that’s not holding back.”

There is another unique thing about Blade Runner 2049, as well. It is technically an independent film. Like director Denis Villeneuve’s last film, Arrival, it’s being produced outside of the studio system but distributed by Warner Bros. in the U.S.A. and Sony overseas. That’s a definite rarity for movies of this scale, particularly sci-fi ones.

Another rarity is how little green-screen work will be in Blade Runner 2049. Villeneuve told Screen Daily, “I can count on my fingers the amount of times we put a green screen on set. Most of the movie was done on camera, me and [cinematographer] Roger Deakins worked very hard to do it that way.”

That doesn’t mean it’ll be entirely without CGI. There will no doubt be a ton in it to expand horizons or augment props, it’s just that they opted to actually build real sets and real props instead of tasking actors with walking around an empty, green set that would be created later. The difference between the two approaches is huge, and if he’s telling the truth and they only constructed a green screen 10 or less times, it’s pretty exciting.

Blade Runner 2049 will hit theaters on October 6, 2017.

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