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'Blade Runner': Sequel release date and a look at director Denis Villeneuve

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(Read caption) Harrison Ford will star in the sequel to 'Blade Runner.'

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A release date has been set for an upcoming sequel to the classic science fiction film “Blade Runner.” 

The sequel will include the return of first film's star, Harrison Ford, and will also star Ryan Gosling of “The Big Short.” It will reportedly be released in January 2018. 

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While original director Ridley Scott of “The Martian” will not be returning for the sequel – that job is being taken on by Denis Villeneuve of “Sicario” – original screenwriter Hampton Fancher is writing the new movie, and Scott reportedly worked on the story for the new film with Fancher. 

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The original film was released in 1982 and based on a book by novelist Philip K. Dick. It is often hailed as one of the best sci-fi movies of all time. 

Villeneuve, the director of the upcoming movie, is best known for films such as "Sicario" and "Prisoners."

The director has gotten attention over the last few years with the release of these films, but it is only recently that he has become more well known with the release of “Prisoners" in 2013. James Mottram of The Independent wrote upon the release of “Sicario,” “Denis Villeneuve is having a ‘How did I get here?’ moment. Until a few years ago, the Québécois director was a little-known player on the French-Canadian arthouse scene. Now, he’s one of the hottest directors in Hollywood.” 

Villeneuve taking on the “Blade Runner” sequel – a high-profile project – is the newest example of studios hiring lesser known directors for big-budget properties. But Villeneuve has made more movies than some of his less-experienced peers like "Jurassic World" director Colin Trevorrow.

Trevorrow was known chiefly for the independent film “Safety Not Guaranteed” before he signed on to direct the newest "Jurassic Park" film.

A similar decision was made by Disney in hiring a director for the eighth “Star Wars” film. Rian Johnson of “Looper” and “Brick” has taken on the job, but he is most likely less known to casual moviegoers than previous “Star Wars” director J.J. Abrams. (And in fact, Trevorrow is set to direct the ninth “Star Wars” movie.) 

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Forbes writer Scott Mendelson wrote that this strategy worked out quite well with “Jurassic.” “What Colin Trevorrow pulled off back in June is something of a best-case scenario for the current Hollywood mentality,” Mendelson wrote. “Universal/Comcast and Legendary Pictures took a relatively green filmmaker, one coming off a single acclaimed indie, and gave him the keys to a massive franchise. Usually this story ends in disaster ... But Trevorrow not only completed the film on budget and on time, not only was he incredibly thoughtful and articulate on the press circuit, but he crafted a 'Jurassic World' that was basically the complete package.”

Meanwhile, Deadline writer Mike Fleming Jr. sees the hiring of directors like Johnson and Trevorrow as bringing on some of the best helmers around (both “Safety” and “Looper” were well received by critics).

“It is in keeping with Disney and Lucasfilm’s strategy of entrusting the venerable franchise to the best and brightest writers and directors,” Fleming wrote of the decision to hire Johnson for "Star Wars."

Los Angeles Times writer Josh Rottenberg, however, believes this strategy can backfire if the pressure suddenly put on a relatively new director becomes too much. He pointed to last summer’s “Fantastic Four” movie, which was directed by Josh Trank of “Chronicle” and did not do well with critics or at the box office. “Four” was only Trank’s second movie.

“The debacle ... highlighted the difficult power struggle that can come into play when a filmmaker with a strong point of view but limited experience is suddenly thrown into the tent-pole realm, where the pressure to deliver a four-quadrant hit is crushing,” Rottenberg wrote of Trank directing “Four.” 

And Rottenberg points out another problem: very few women directors, experienced or not, are being hired to take on these movies.