Blade Runner 2049,” the sequel to the 1982 science fiction film starring Harrison Ford, finally premiered in cinemas on Friday last week. It had a lot going for it despite being the continuation of an art-house movie that pretty much flopped at the box office when it came out. There were the fascinating visuals and teased story hooks that have got old-time fans either interested or excited. Advance screening reviews have also been near generally positive, acclaiming it as a great sequel and a standalone classic in the making. Following its first cinematic weekend, “2049” has at number one, but those same earnings are far below the estimates of Warner Bros, seemingly foredooming it to the same fate as its predecessor.

Short at the box office

For the first weekend of October after its Friday premiere on the sixth, “Blade Runner 2049” from Warner Bros. managed to bring in a US-Canada total of $31.5 million. That is near three times the take of the weekend second-placer, “The Mountain Between Us” from 20th Century Fox ($10.1 million). That would be enough to make the sci-fi sequel starring Ryan Gosling and returning actor Harrison Ford the top grosser for that short period. But on the long term, the projected box office performance is not looking very good.

Warner Bros.’ estimate for the opening weekend of “Blade Runner 2049” had been $55 million, which makes the actual take of $31.5 million fall quite short.

And that is merely the beginning of a larger trouble for the movie. Its production budget had run the total of about $150 million, so “2049” is going to have quite the struggle already to break even. First-weekend international earnings thus far amounted to $50.2 million, adding to $ 81.7 million with the domestic box office.

Nostalgia for the original

The fact that “Blade Runner 2049” has stumbled this badly out of the gate was quite the surprise, as the cast aside from Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford also includes Jared Leto and Robin Wright. The film was also directed by Denis Villeneuve, who got an Oscar nomination for his 2016 film “Arrival.” Analysts, however, believe the box office underperformance is due to the movie’s niche appeal.

Audience demographics report that viewers were mostly male and over 25 years of age. It is practically the same people who watched the first “Blade Runner” back in 1982, which was also a failure for Warner Bros. in cinemas before becoming the cult classic it is now.

Compared to the box office, critical response to “Blade Runner 2049” remains very good on almost all counts. Reviewers cite the strong performances of Gosling and Ford, the expanded world-building of the setting and the story in general. Even audiences who have seen the movie have rated it A- on CinemaScope.