How studio execs came to regret ruining a sci-fi classic.
Blade Runner sits high atop many a list of the best sci-fi films of all time. It's certainly on mine. A crucial part of the film's cult mythology is that it was misunderstood by just about everyone at the time of its release—audiences, critics, and, especially, studio execs. Worried about the slow pacing and replicant-laden narrative, the studio famously forced Ridley Scott and Harrison Ford to add a cumbersome voiceover narration.
Ford was, and continues to be, pissed: "When we started shooting it had been tacitly agreed that the version of the film that we had agreed upon was the version without voiceover narration. It was a fucking nightmare. I thought that the film had worked without the narration. But now I was stuck re-creating that narration. And I was obliged to do the voiceovers for people that did not represent the director's interests."
"I went kicking and screaming to the studio to record it," he reportedly said.
Apparently, the execs at Tandem Productions weren't happy with the results, either. Reddit user VanTraschcan posted some recently recovered notes from an early screening, and, well, they hated it. They pretty much hated the whole film, but they return time and again to the lousy voiceover:
Reddit user sheepthief explains the cast of characters here: "J.P." is Jerry Perenchio, "B.Y." is Bud Yorkin, "R.F." is Robin French -- they were all execs at Tandem Productions. This screening happened, and was hated, evidently, just as the film's first trailer hit cinemas."
The film would debut just 6 months later.
Along with finding the whole thing "deadly dull," they all hated the voice over. Perenchio was particularly incensed, and wondered "why is this voiceover track so terrible ... were they all on drugs when they did this?" The lot of them agreed to term the voiceover an "insult."
The world agreed. The limp, noirish exposition was widely scorned by critics and fans, and was subsequently dumped from both the 1992 Director's Cut and the 2007 Final Cut—now the definitive versions of the film.