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There are two undeniable facts about Blade Runner 2049. A lot of critics loved the movie, and not a lot of people actually saw the movie. The original Blade Runner has become a cult classic since its debut in the '80s, and that popularity was apparently enough to greenlight a sequel, however, in the end, the fandom wasn't enough to make Blade Runner 2049 a big success and most people just never saw the movie. Among them, apparently, is the director who made the thing, Denis Villeneuve.
It seems that not watching his own movies is something of a trend with Denis Villeneuve. The director recently told Collider that because of all the emotions that are generally involved in a film production for him, he can't look at his own work objectively for a long time, so he simply walks away from it until he can. According to the director...
It’s a movie that I was not able to watch again. It takes time to be able to digest and make peace with [your own movies]. For me, when I make a movie, there’s a lot of deep joy and pain and anger linked with the process. When it’s done, it takes me years until I am able to watch it again and see the movie for what it is. I am not there with Blade Runner.
It's far from crazy to hear Denis Villeneuve say he can't watch his own movies until he gets some distance. Numerous actors and have made comments over the years that they have trouble watching themselves on screen and so it's not shocking that a director might feel the same way. If watching a movie is simply going to dredge up the various emotions attached to making it then he's not going to enjoy the film for its own sake, nevermind learn anything from it.
Of course, if the idea is to "see the movie for what it is" the downside of not being able to watch the film is delaying the process of doing that. If there's something that Denis Villeneuve could learn from watching his films that he might take forward to future projects, he won't be able to gain that knowledge for a long time.
And right now, Denis Villeneuve has another massive science-fiction franchise movie in front of him, Dune. One can only imagine just how emotional the first of what is set to be a two-film project has been, perhaps, once he's finished Dune, the movie will give him the distance necessary to watch Blade Runner 2049.
And he really should. While Blade Runner 2049 may be destined to join its predecessor in the cult classic category, as the movie was a well-regarded film that was not a box office success, there's a lot to love about it. It's truly a work that Denis Villeneuve can be proud of. We can only hope that Dune turns out to be just as good.