On Blade Runner and sci-fi

You’ve read TG Daily’s coverage of Phillip K. Dick’s short story, King of the Elves, being developed as a vehicle for Disney. 

In fact, Dick’s daughter, Isa Dick, has been doing a lot to keep her father’s legacy alive, although Blade Runner never needed much help in that regard – at least not after it really took off.

Isa is also hoping people will see her father as more than a sci-fi writer, and a project at Disney could go a long way to change that.

“People only tend to think about my father’s work in terms of hardcore sci-fi,” she told the Wall Street Journal. “[But] the movies released thus far don’t necessarily represent all of what he wrote.”


Blade Runner, which was a flop when it was first released in 1982, has become a huge cult classic, and made Dick’s name synonymous with science fiction.

Director Ridley Scott wasn’t a huge sci-fi nut at first, but like many of theatergoers fell under the spell of Star Wars, and Alien was the next crucial step in the evolution of modern sci-fi.


As Scott recalled in the book Blockbuster, he didn’t want to keep doing sci-fi films, but when you’re successful in one genre, you usually get tons of scripts in that genre.

Star Wars was greenlit at Fox by Alan Ladd Jr., and Blade Runner was set up at The Ladd Company, which he formed after leaving Fox in 1980. The enormous success of Star Wars meant a lot of smaller, riskier movies could get made at Fox, and the losses would be covered. With the Police Academy films making big bucks for the Ladd Company, Ladd also made riskier movies at his own company like Blade Runner and Star 80.


As Isa told the L.A. Times, her father didn’t even get to see Blade Runner, he died four months before it came out. Isa went with her mother to go see it, and there were about two other people in the theater. “That’s the way it was everywhere,” she recalled. “The movie was a total failure.”


But in time, the cult of Blade Runner grew huge, and Dick’s work has been adapted a number of times for the screen, including Total Recall, which is being remade with Colin Farrell, Minority Report, Scanner Darkly, which is where David Cronenberg got the inspiration for the title of Scanners, and The Adjustment Bureau. 

Also on the development board is King of the Elves, Ubik, to be written and directed by Michel Gondry, and a mini-sers adaptation of The Man in the High Castle, which Ridley Scott will produce.


“Blade Runner has kind of resurrected itself. But it didn’t resurrect itself on its own. I think MTV did it. That whole MTV generation saw the romanticism and retro neoclassicism – where it’s always raining and always dark – and saw this world as a romantic world,” Scott recalled in Blockbuster.

“It certainly influenced so many filmmakers particularly in that video world: suddenly every other band had a neo-Blade Runner background… It’s a funny cycle, but it’s great that it resurfaced that way.”