‘Blade Runner 2049’ Director Denis Villeneuve Explains Why He Replaced Composer Jóhann Jóhannsson

     October 2, 2017

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Director Denis Villeneuve and composer Johann Johannsson have had a fruitful relationship with Johannson providing powerful scores for Prisoners, Sicario, and Arrival. Johannson was set to work on Villeneuve’s latest film, Blade Runner 2049, but eventually Villeneuve decided to go a different direction and bring on composers Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch (IT). Considering the history and the fact that Johannsson is an Oscar-nominated composer, it was a bit surprising when he was let go.

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Image via Alcon Entertainment / Warner Bros.

Speaking to Al Arabiya English [via Indiewire], Villeneuve explains why he deiced to part ways with Johannsson on this project:

“The thing I will say is that making movies is a laboratory. It’s an artistic process. You cannot plan things. Jóhann Jóhannsson is one of my favorite composers alive today. He’s a very strong artist. But the movie needed something different, and I needed to go back to something closer to Vangelis. Jóhann and I decided that I will need to go in another direction — that’s what I will say. I hope I have the chance to work with him again because I think he’s really a fantastic composer.”

Having just seen the film, I can say that the score is definitely in line with Ridley Scott’s 1982 original, so Villeneuve accomplished what he set out to do as far as the score is concerned. Iceland Review says Johannsson is contractually forbidden from commenting on the situation, which is odd, but I assume even if he could talk about it, he would have a diplomatic answer similar to Villeneuve.

Blade Runner 2049 opens Friday. Here’s the official synopsis:

Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.

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