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How one Stanley Kubrick film changed Ridley Scott's life


Ridley Scott is a bit of an enigma in 2021. Both The Last Duel and House of Gucci are already getting a fair amount of award season buzz, but the former had to weather a disastrous box office opening that’s put the success of the latter into question. Whether that was due to the lingering effects of Covid-19 keeping people from going to the theatre or the generally ambivalent audience response. Despite being one of the most acclaimed directors of the past 40 years, Scott isn’t immune to a stinker or a box office bomb within his filmography.

The good news is that Scott doesn’t put all of his value on a movie’s financial success. When discussing some of his favourite films with the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Scott was asked the question: “What movie do you wish more people had seen?” His response was a classic film from Stanley Kubrick that was originally a bit of a bomb itself. “2001 – it wasn’t a ringing success,” he said. Scott then qualifies his answer by throwing one of his own films in the mix: “And the other one more people should have seen sooner was Blade Runner. That didn’t really play.”

In the video, Scott doesn’t elaborate on 2001: A Space Odyssey, but he’s right about its fortunes, at least during its initial run. Met with a polarising critical reception, the original theatrical release of 2001 left Stanley Kubrick Productions and the film’s distributor, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, about $800,000 in the red, equivalent to over $6million in today’s currency.

That was shortly rectified by a 1971 re-release after the film began to rise in stature. Further re-releases in 1974, 1977, 1980, 1993, 2001, and 2018 meant that the film continued to be profitable well after its initial run, not unlike Blade Runner and its multiple cuts. Scott obviously values the visuals and themes of the film itself, but its initial reception undoubtedly taught Scott an additional lesson about relative success in the film industry.

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