The highly anticipated sequel Blade Runner 2049 made its debut in theaters earlier this month. Were it not for a chance encounter at Princeton, the film may never have made it to the big screen.
Two of its producers, Broderick Johnson ’90 and Andrew Kosove ’92, met at lunch in Wu Hall during their undergraduate days. A few years after graduation, inspired by a mutual love of movies, they formed their own production company, Alcon Entertainment.
Despite having no experience in the film industry, Johnson said they were able to expand their business using skills they learned while at Princeton. “We really taught ourselves the business,” Johnson said. “Princeton teaches you how to learn, and to some degree, that background really helped us when we decided to pursue financing the company.”
The duo has produced and financed multiple films, including Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia and the movie adaptation of Michael Lewis ’82’s The Blind Side, an Academy Award nominee for best picture that earned Sandra Bullock the Oscar for best actress.
Johnson and Kosove were fans of Ridley Scott’s iconic 1982 film Blade Runner long before they signed on to produce a sequel. The original, set in 2019 and starring Harrison Ford, centered on a society of rogue “synthetic humans” originally build to work on off-world colonies. Kosove said the original Blade Runner was ahead of its time in terms of visuals, music, and story structure.
“When the opportunity came to expand that world and work with Ridley, it was something Broderick and I were very intrigued with, both as a creative matter and as a business matter,” Kosove said.
Blade Runner 2049, set 30 years after the original, preserves some features of the first movie, such as using miniatures for special effects and hiring some of the same creators (Scott, an executive producer; screenwriter Hampton Fancher). Ford reprises his role as Rick Deckard in a cast that also features Ryan Gosling and Ana de Armas.
“It’s an extraordinarily ambitious film in terms of its physical production, as well as its artistic objective,” Kosove said. “It’s a tremendous challenge, and we’re hopeful that audiences will respond favorably to it.” Last weekend, the film topped the worldwide box office, earning $44.4 million, according to Variety.
Looking back on their time at Princeton, Kosove and Johnson value the friendships that they made. On the day of the Blade Runner 2049 premiere, many of their friends and classmates traveled from across the United States to help them celebrate. They also credit the University’s focus on critical thinking and identifying opportunities that others may miss. “This is the biggest value of a Princeton education,” Kosove said. “Any Princetonian you talk to in any business space will tell you that served them very well.”