It appears Blade Runner 2049 is getting a dose of The Zimmer. When it was announced that a Blade Runner sequel was happening, many were understandably skeptical. But signing filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, fresh off of Sicario and Arrival, to direct was a major reason to be excited for this sci-fi follow-up. Villeneuve is known for meticulous craftsmanship and a degree of creative ambition that’s not usually found in blockbuster filmmaking, which extends to his filmmaking team. There’s Roger Deakins, master cinematographer bringing films like Prisoners and Sicario to vivid life, and there’s Oscar-nominated composer Johann Johansson, who’s somewhat changing the game when it comes to traditional film scoring.
Johansson’s work on Sicario and Arrival in particular drew heavily from soundscape, blurring the line between score and sound design in the most wonderful way. Fans have been curious to hear what he’s put together for Blade Runner 2049, but now comes word that Johansson’s work won’t be the only one we hear in the film. Villeneuve revealed in a recent interview with Studio Cine Live (via Film Music Reporter) that Hans Zimmer is now working on the score alongside Benjamin Wallfisch (A Cure for Wellness, IT), maintaining the theme written by Johansson. The report says that Johannsson is still involved in the project, but it’s unclear what led to this change.
Collider spoke with Villeneuve just a few weeks ago about the score as part of an extended, exclusive interview, and while the filmmaker didn’t talk about who’s doing the score, he made clear that the score for Blade Runner 2049 will absolutely harken back to Vangelis’ work in the original film:
“There are some components in the original movie that made that movie stand out, and one of those components is the Vangelis music. It’s a very specific sound, and for me there was no negotiation about that. It [was] very important that the 2049 would be directly inspired by Vangelis’ work as much as the cinematography was directly inspired by the original movie. There’s things [that are] like in the DNA of Blade Runner, so we tried to stay faithful to that DNA.”
It sounds like it’s possible Johansson’s score wasn’t Vangelis-y enough for Villeneuve, so Zimmer and Wallfisch came in to flesh that part of the score out. Or it’s possible Zimmer and Wallfisch were brought in for an entirely different reason. As big a fan as I am of Zimmer’s, it’s a bit of a bummer to hear that Johansson’s score won’t be untouched. But I also trust in Villeneuve to make the right decisions here, so I’ll be curious to see what the final soundscape (and credits) are like.