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Critics and fans propel ‘Blade Runner 2049’ to No. 1, but ticket sales still disappoint

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Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford in Blade Runner 2049 movie.  (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford in Blade Runner 2049 movie. (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Photo by TNS

Photo by TNS

Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford in Blade Runner 2049 movie. (Warner Bros. Pictures)

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“Blade Runner 2049” topped the box office its first weekend, but despite strong reviews and positive audience reaction, sales were estimated at only $31.5 million in the U.S. and Canada, according to the measurement firm ComScore, significantly below analysts’ projections.

A sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi cult classic “Blade Runner,” about a futuristic society where androids known as “replicants” are almost indistinguishable from humans, “Blade Runner 2049” had been estimated to debut at $45 million to $50 million. The movie – directed by Denis Villeneuve and starring Ryan Gosling and Jared Leto, with Harrison Ford reprising his role as Deckard –cost an estimated $150 million to produce after rebates and before marketing costs.

The picture earned an 89 percent “fresh” rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan wrote, “this film puts you firmly, brilliantly, unassailably in another world.” The movie received an A-minus grade from audiences surveyed by CinemaScore.

“It’s great to be the No. 1 movie in the marketplace,” said Jeff Goldstein, president of domestic distribution at the studio. “It’s an extraordinary film that Denis Villeneuve has to get a tremendous credit for.”

Despite the positive reception, “Blade Runner 2049” debuted below comparable fall-season sci-fi titles such as “Gravity,” “The Martian” and “Interstellar” and below the franchise revival “Mad Max: Fury Road,” all of which opened in years past with more than $45 million.

“Blade Runner 2049” audiences were mostly men ages 35 and older, despite the push to attract women through the casting of Ford, Gosling and Leto.

“We got a more narrow audience than we had anticipated,” Goldstein said. “But at the same time, this gives us an opportunity for growth as the movie broadens out.”

Fox Searchlight’s “The Mountain Between Us” debuted at No. 2, earning $10.1 million.

The film, starring Kate Winslet and Idris Elba, follows the survival saga of strangers stranded together atop a remote snow-covered mountain after a plane crash. The $35 million film earned an A-minus rating on CinemaScore but a “rotten” 46 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

After briefly reclaiming the top spot, New Line Cinema’s “It,” now in its fifth weekend, came in third, earning $9.7 million for a total of $304.9 million in the U.S.

The movie, now the highest-grossing horror film of all time internationally (with nearly $300 million in ticket sales abroad), follows kids who are terrorized by an evil clown.

Lionsgate’s animated family picture “My Little Pony: The Movie” opened at No. 4, taking in $8.8 million. Featuring the voices of Liev Schreiber, Michael Pena, Emily Blunt, Kristin Chenoweth, Taye Diggs and Zoe Saldana, the film earned an A-minus rating on CinemaScore and a “rotten” 58 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

In fifth place, Fox’s “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” brought in $8.1 million. The film is a sequel to the 2015 hit “Kingsman: The Secret Service”; the two are based on a comic book about a secret organization of British super-spies.

In limited release, Focus Features’ “Victoria and Abdul,” now in its third weekend, added 655 theaters for a total of 732 and brought in $4.1 million. The picture is based on the relationship between Queen Victoria and an Indian attendant.

Fox Searchlight expanded the Steve Carrell-Emma Stone “Battle of the Sexes” to 1,822 locations and earned $2.4 million.

A24 opened “The Florida Project” in four locations, bringing in $152,622.

This week, STX Entertainment opens the action thriller “The Foreigner” starring Jackie Chan, Universal Studios premieres the horror flick “Happy Death Day,” Open Roads Films debuts the Chadwick Boseman-led “Marshall” and Annapurna Pictures releases the drama “Professor Marston & the Wonder Women.” Additionally, Fox Searchlight debuts “Goodbye Christopher Robin” in limited release.

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Critics and fans propel ‘Blade Runner 2049’ to No. 1, but ticket sales still disappoint