At 80 years old and established presence in Hollywood, you can count on Ridley Scott to be, to put it kindly, candid. He’s willing to call out movies and franchises, and he didn’t hold off in a recent interview with Vulture about his new film All the Money in the World.
During the interview, Scott was asked about the poor reception to Blade Runner 2049, which earned 87% on Rotten Tomatoes but only made $91 million domestically. Scott was an executive producer on the film and consulted on the story, but he believes that the problem with the movie was the length:
[Whispers] “I have to be careful what I say. I have to be careful what I say. It was fucking way too long. Fuck me! And most of that script’s mine.”
I’d disagree with Scott’s assessment. People will sit through long movies. I think the larger problem is that Warner Bros. overestimated the number of people who had seen the original and may have felt lost with a direct sequel.
Scott went on to specify which parts of 2049 were his [spoilers ahead]:
But the big idea comes from Blade Runner. Tyrell is a trillionaire, maybe 5 to 10 percent of his business is AI. Like God, he has created perfect beings that, for all intents and purposes, there is no telling the difference from humans. Then he says, “You know what? I’m going to create an AI. I’ll have a male and female, they will not know that they’re both AIs, I’ll have them meet each other, they will fall in love, they will consummate, and they will have a child.” That’s the first film. The second film is, what happens to the baby? You’ve got to have the baby, you can’t have the mother, so the mother has to inexplicably die four months after she breastfeeds. The bones are found in the box at the foot of the tree — that’s all me. And the digital girlfriend is me. I wanted an evolution from Pris, who is inordinately sexy in the original, right?
Scott also explained why he was the wrong choice to direct a Star Wars movie:
You’ve watched other people take over franchises you’ve made. How often are you asked to do that? Has Kathleen Kennedy offered you a Star Wars movie?
No, no. I’m too dangerous for that.
Why is that?
Because I know what I’m doing. [Laughs.] I think they like to be in control, and I like to be in control myself. When you get a guy who’s done a low-budget movie and you suddenly give him $180 million, it makes no sense whatsoever. It’s fuckin’ stupid. You know what the reshoots cost?
I can’t imagine.
Millions! Millions. You can get me for my fee, which is heavy, but I’ll be under budget and on time. This is where experience does matter, it’s as simple as that! It can make you dull as dishwater, but if you’re really experienced and you know what you’re doing, it’s fucking essential. Grow into it, little by little. Start low-budget, get a little bit bigger, maybe after $20 million, you can go to $80. But don’t suddenly go to $160.
Interviewer Kyle Buchanan smartly points out that the mid-budget movie doesn’t really exist anymore, so the learning curve Scott recommends is much harder to do. Also, to be fair, if your highest priority is making sure your movie comes in under budget and on time, then I guess that’s at least one metric where you can consider Exodus: Gods and Kings a success.