While critical reception was initially split, in this day and age, Ridley Scott’s 1982 Blade Runner is widely regarded as one of the classics of the science fiction genre. There are seemingly a dozen cuts of the film, and everyone has an opinion about which is the superior version.
Fans aren’t the only ones with definite views on the film, however. Studio executives may have been the harshest critics of Scott’s vision. Just take a quick moment to peruse these notes from a test screening from January 1982, a few short months before it hit theaters. At one point they say, “This movie gets worse every screening.” Harsh words, indeed.
These notes come from Tandem Productions—co-producers of Blade Runner with The Ladd Company and legendary Hong Kong producer Run Run Shaw—execs Jerry Perenchio, Robin French, and Bud Yorkin. And as you can tell from the comments on this sheet, they weren’t shy about expressing their opinions as they eviscerated the film.
The use of voiceover has always been a divisive element of Blade Runner, one of the most hated additions. It is mentioned at least three times on this sheet. Pace is another key point that the execs harp on repeatedly, calling the film slow and dull.
I don’t know how much input these folks actually had on the finished product, or if Scott wound up taking any of these words to heart, but this gives you a good glimpse at how difficult it was to make Blade Runner. In a broader sense, this illustrates issues confronting all filmmakers trying to transfer their vision from script to screen.