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Ridley Scott abandoned a sci-fi flop to make Blade Runner

A world without Blade Runner would be about as dystopian as it gets, but Ridley Scott saved us all when he ditched his plans to make Dune.

Ridley Scott in a documentary about James Cameron

To say that Ridley Scott knows a thing or two about science fiction would be a disservice to the great filmmaker. Between Alien and Blade Runner, he’s helped shape the genre over the years, but he very nearly didn’t make the latter at all — and we’d have Dune to blame!

While Ridley Scott has provided us with some of the best movies of each decade since his big break in the ’70s, it’s safe to say he’s also had a few stinkers on his scorecard. House of Gucci was one of the worst movies of 2021; Exodus: Gods and Kings was critically-panned; and the less said about his Robin Hood, the better.

But, Scott made a shrewd decision in the ’80s when he stepped away from Dune. Speaking to Total Film, the man himself revealed why he made that choice: “[Producer] Dino [De Laurentiis] said, ‘It’s expensive, we’re going to have to make it in Mexico.’ And with the greatest respect to Mexico City… I didn’t love it… I said, ‘Nah, Dino, I don’t want to make this a hardship.’ And so I actually backed out.”

Of course, Scott was coming off the back of the incredible success of the first Alien movie, so he had a fair bit of bargaining power and credibility. And, as we know, Scott is not one to bow to anyone or anything, so it’s no surprise that he saw something he didn’t like and instantly moved on.

It wasn’t for the want of trying, though. Despite claiming the story of Dune was “always unfilmable,” Scott was enthused about the vision he and writer Rudy Wurlitzer had put together. “We did a very good take on Dune because early days, I’d work very, very closely with the writer. I was always glomming the look of the film onto what he or she was writing.”

Oh, to have seen what Scott was cooking up with that one! Still, by moving on from Dune, Scott was given the time and freedom to put together Blade Runner, which stands as one of the best science fiction movies ever made. The fact that the hit ‘80s movie still influences modern blockbusters today tells us all we need to know about how lucky we are to have Blade Runner at all.

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That all worked out for the best, but sadly, Dune did not have a fun ride at all in the wake of Scott’s departure. David Lynch took over, and despite being one of the best directors (or at least one of the most creative) around at the time, the end result was a mess. Who would have thought that trying to fit an 896-page novel into a single 137-minute movie would be a bad idea??

Of course, we now know that Dune is not unfilmable at all. In fact, it makes for a pretty brilliant movie, if you do it right. Denis Villeneuve had the right idea in splitting that mammoth story into three parts and giving it space to breathe. The first film gave us everything we could have hoped for in setting up the journey of Paul Atreides, with explosive action, beautiful visuals, and weird space creatures.

Now, if the Dune 2 release date could just hurry up, that would be great. Until then, we can look into Ridley Scott’s work a little further, and think about his new movies with our guides to the Gladiator 2 release date and the Napoleon release date. Or, if you’re after more mind-blowing sci-fi, here’s what we know about Avatar 3.