38 years ago, “The Thing” and “Blade Runner” bombed. They’re masterpieces today. Why?
Chris Nashawaty at Esquire.com:
It’s tempting to look back with the benefit of hindsight and wonder how two movies that targeted the same exact demographic could have been scheduled to open on the same weekend. Why weren’t they spaced out a little? Today, of course, there are armies of highly-paid statisticians who crunch tons of numbers to circumvent that exact problem. But the movie business was a different beast in 1982. It also turned out to be a ridiculously loaded boom-year for science fiction movies—an embarrassment of intergalactic riches. In addition to Blade Runner and The Thing, 1982 also gave us Poltergeist, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, Tron, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Conan the Barbarian, and Steven Spielberg’s 800-pound box-office gorilla, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial all within the same barely-ajar ten-week summer window. But still, why not spread the wealth around a little? Well, as with just about all things, you can pin the blame on Star Wars. After all, both 1977’s A New Hope and 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back opened in May. If you worked at a major studio in 1982, the new box-office conventional-wisdom dictated that sci-fi geeks came out in hordes when air-conditioning was on the menu.
I admire “Blade Runner” but don’t enjoy it. It’s visually gorgeous, and still looks great, despite nearly 40 years of advances in special effects. And it builds a future that still looks believable, even though “Blade Runner” takes place in a fictional 2019, and it’s now 2020.
But the story and characters don’t grab me. I don’t watch it. I look at it.
On the other hand, “The Thing,” with Kurt Russell fighting monsters in the Antarctic, has always been one of my favorite movies. I’m pleasantly surprised to learn it’s considered a classic.