Blade Runner was released in 1,290 theaters on June 25, 1982. That date was chosen by producer Alan Ladd, Jr. because his previous highest-grossing films (Star Wars and Alien) had a similar opening date (May 25) in 1977 and 1979, making the date his "lucky day". The gross for the opening weekend was a disappointing $6.15 million. A significant factor in the film's rather poor box office performance was that it was released around the same time as other science fiction films, including The Thing, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and, most significantly, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, which dominated box office revenues that summer.
Film critics were polarized as some felt the story had taken a back seat to special effects and that it was not the action/adventure the studio had advertised. Others acclaimed its complexity and predicted it would stand the test of time.
In the United States, a general criticism was its slow pacing that detracts from other strengths; Sheila Benson from the Los Angeles Times called it "Blade Crawler", while Pat Berman in The State and Columbia Record described it as "science fiction pornography". Pauline Kael noted that with its "extraordinary" congested-megalopolis sets, Blade Runner "has its own look, and a visionary sci-fi movie that has its own look can't be ignored – it has its place in film history" but "hasn't been thought out in human terms". Roger Ebert praised the visuals of both the original Blade Runner and the Director's Cut versions and recommended it for that reason; however, he found the human story clichéd and a little thin. In 2007, upon release of The Final Cut, Ebert somewhat revised his original opinion of the film and added it to his list of Great Movies, while noting, "I have been assured that my problems in the past with Blade Runner represent a failure of my own taste and imagination, but if the film was perfect, why has Sir Ridley continued to tinker with it?" Blade Runner holds a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes with an average score of 8.4 out of 10 from 96 reviews. The site's main consensus reads "Misunderstood when it first hit theaters, the influence of Ridley Scott's mysterious, neo-noir Blade Runner has deepened with time. A visually remarkable, achingly human sci-fi masterpiece."
Blade Runner has won and been nominated for the following awards:
|1982||British Society of Cinematographers||Best Cinematography Award||Jordan Cronenweth||Nominated|
|Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award||Best Cinematography||Jordan Cronenweth||Won|
|1983||BAFTA Film Award||Best Cinematography||Jordan Cronenweth||Won|
|Best Costume Design||Charles Knode & Michael Kaplan||Won|
|Best Production Design/Art Direction||Lawrence G. Paull||Won|
|Best Film Editing||Terry Rawlings||Nominated|
|Best Make Up Artist||Marvin Westmore||Nominated|
|Best Sound||Peter Pennell, Bud Alper, Graham V. Hartstone, Gerry Humphreys||Nominated|
|Best Special Visual Effects||Douglas Trumbull, Richard Yuricich, David Dryer||Nominated|
|Hugo Award||Best Dramatic Presentation||Blade Runner||Won|
|London Critics Circle Film Awards||Special Achievement Award||Lawrence G. Paull, Douglas Trumbull, Syd Mead||Won|
|Golden Globes||Best Original Score – Motion Picture||Vangelis||Nominated|
|Academy Awards||Best Art Direction – Set Decoration||Lawrence G. Paull, David L. Snyder, Linda DeScenna||Nominated|
|Best Effects, Visual Effects||Douglas Trumbull, Richard Yuricich, David Dryer||Nominated|
|Saturn Award||Best Science Fiction Film||Blade Runner||Nominated|
|Best Director||Ridley Scott||Nominated|
|Best Special Effects||Douglas Trumbull, Richard Yuricich||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor||Rutger Hauer||Nominated|
|Fantasporto||International Fantasy Film Award||Best Film – Ridley Scott||Nominated|
Several different versions of Blade Runner have been shown. The original workprint version (1982, 113 minutes) was shown for audience test previews in Denver and Dallas in March 1982. Negative responses to the previews led to the modifications resulting in the U.S. theatrical version. The workprint was shown as a director's cut without Scott's approval at the Los Angeles Fairfax Theater in May 1990, at an AMPAS showing in April 1991, and in September and October 1991 at the Los Angeles NuArt Theater and the San Francisco Castro Theater. Positive responses pushed the studio to approve work on an official director's cut. A San Diego Sneak Preview was shown only once, in May 1982, and was almost identical to the U.S. theatrical version but contained three extra scenes not shown in any other version, including the 2007 Final Cut.
Two versions were shown in the film's 1982 theatrical release: the U.S. theatrical version (116 minutes), known as the original version or Domestic Cut, released on Betamax and VHS in 1983 and Laserdisc in 1987; and the International Cut (117 minutes), also known as the "Criterion Edition" or "uncut version", which included more violent action scenes than the U.S. version. Although initially unavailable in the U.S., and distributed in Europe and Asia via theatrical and local Warner Home Video Laserdisc releases, it was later released on VHS and Criterion Collection Laserdisc in North America, and re-released in 1992 as a "10th Anniversary Edition".
Scott's Director's Cut (1991, 116 minutes) was made available on VHS and Laserdisc in 1993, and on DVD in 1997. Significant changes from the theatrical version include: the removal of Deckard's voice-over; re-insertion of a unicorn sequence; and removal of the studio-imposed happy ending. Scott provided extensive notes and consultation to Warner Bros. through film preservationist Michael Arick, who was put in charge of creating the Director's Cut. Scott's The Final Cut (2007, 117 minutes) was released by Warner Bros. theatrically on October 5, 2007, and subsequently released on DVD, HD DVD, and Blu-ray Disc in December 2007. This is the only version over which Scott had complete editorial control.
|1993||Fantasporto||International Fantasy Film Award||Best Film – Ridley Scott (Director's Cut)||Nominated|
|1994||Saturn Award||Best Genre Video Release||Blade Runner (Director's Cut)||Nominated|
|2008||Saturn Award||Best DVD Special Edition Release||Blade Runner (5 Disc Ultimate Collector's Edition)||Won|