It was a film series that could have been lost like tears in rain, but the Blade Runner franchise is now rightly recognized as one of the most important in all of sci-fi cinema. No wonder so many people want to know where to watch the Blade Runner movies online.
Asking questions about the nature of existence itself, not to mention a fascinating look at a near future LA and our ongoing moral wrestling match with the concept of artificial intelligence, Ridley Scott’s original 1982 film was a forward-thinking adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s novel, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?".
However, it was given a lukewarm reception upon its first release thanks to a subpar studio edit and overbearing narrative overdub. Only subsequent re-releases and director’s cuts have made Ridley Scott’s film shine as the true masterpiece it is, as Harrison Ford hunts down a group of human-like android "replicants" on the run as they approach the end of their artificially-shortened lives.
With a star turn by the late Rutger Hauer, fantastic production design by sci-fi stalwart Syd Mead and a lavish soundtrack by electronic music maestro Vangelis, it’s one of the most influential visions of the future in all of cinema. Its DNA is clear to see in the likes of "Minority Report" and "The Matrix", while auteur director Denis Villeneuve managed the impossible by making a beautiful and exciting sequel in 2017’s "Blade Runner 2049".
Looking to catch it for the first time, or relive the excitement all over again? Read on for all the best places to stream, rent and buy the Blade Runner franchise, including its animated spin-offs, as well as a sneak peek at what’s coming next for the franchise.
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Blade Runner: The Final Cut (2007)
If you’re watching Blade Runner for the first time, make sure you watch this version: 2007’s "Blade Runner: The Final Cut". Lovingly remastered and re-edited by director Ridley Scott, it’s the film as Scott intended it to be seen all those decades ago. It removes the unnecessary overdub of the 1982 version, restores some cut scenes and puts greater emphasis on the much-discussed "unicorn theory" – the central mystery of the film, that we won’t ruin here.
The Final Cut retains all the action and wonderful set design of the original, but smart edits make for a more meditative and intoxicating film, luxuriating in the subtleties of the actors' performances without the heavy-handed exposition that Ford’s original voice over weighed the film down with.
Where to watch Blade Runner The Final Cut in the US
Digital - Amazon Prime ($14.99)
4K Blu-ray - Amazon ($24.99)
Blu-ray - Amazon ($7.45)
DVD - Amazon ($3.05)
Where to watch Blade Runner The Final Cut in the UK
Digital - Amazon (£4.99)
4K Blu-ray - Amazon (£17.99)
Blu-ray - Amazon (£9.99)
DVD - Amazon (£4.99)
Blade Runner (1982)
The original, theatrical cut of Blade Runner was released in 1982, and while it’s no longer seen as the definitive version of the film, it’s very much still worth watching to get a feel for how this many-times-edited film has evolved over the years. This 1982 version features a detective-noir-like narration overdub by Harrison Ford, which takes some of the mystique out of proceedings, as well as a jarring "happy" ending, demanded by studio executives at the time, that was reportedly filmed after the main production and tacked on at the end. But it’s still a film swimming with atmosphere, beautiful lighting and imaginative ideas about the future.
Where to watch Blade Runner in the US
The original cut of Blade Runner is not currently available for subscription streaming in the US, though it can be bought and rented.
Digital - Amazon Prime ($14.99)
Where to watch Blade Runner in the UK
Digital - Amazon Prime (£4.99)
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Many "Blade Runner" fans were aghast when news of a sequel was announced. Why would such a perfectly-formed film require a sequel, and how could it possibly live up the original? Those fears proved unfounded however when Denis Villeneuve took the director’s seat – arguably the greatest sci-fi director of the modern age, Villeneuve’s sequel, "Blade Runner 2049", tells an engrossing original story that still manages to capture the dream-like atmosphere of the original. It’s a modern classic.
Starring Ryan Gosling as Officer K, a new blade runner detective, he unearths a secret that could shake the very nature of existence itself, and must track down a major character from the original movie (spoiler removed!) to solve a mystery that will put both their lives in danger.
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Where to watch Blade Runner 2049 in the US
Digital - Amazon ($9.99)
4K Blu-ray - Amazon ($19.71)
Blu-ray - Amazon ($7.99)
DVD - Amazon ($4.99)
Where to watch Blade Runner 2049 in the UK
Digital - Amazon (£7.99)
4K Blu-ray - Amazon (£19.99)
Blu-ray - Amazon (£7.99)
DVD - Amazon (£1.99)
Blade Runner shorts and anime
Here’s a deep cut that even the most ardent "Blade Runner" fan may not be aware of. Before "Blade Runner 2049" hit cinemas, three short prequel films were made to promote its release, each taking place during a different year and plugging the gaps in what happened in the intervening years since the original’s story took place.
"Blade Runner Black Out 2022" is an excellent anime short from Shinichirō Watanabe, creator of the fantastic "Cowboy Bebop", detailing a replicant uprising against the Tyrell Corporation that created them. "2036: Nexus Dawn" stars Jared Leto and Benedict Wong, and shows how the Wallace mega-corporation once again begins production of a new line of replicants. "2048: Nowhere to Run" leads directly into the core film, revealing how one on-the-run replicant (Dave Bautista) became reported to the authorities.
What’s next for the Blade Runner franchise? Blade Runner Black Lotus
Can’t get enough AI action? "Blade Runner 2049" won’t be the last we see of the world of replicants and "spinner" flying cars. A new anime series, "Blade Runner: Black Lotus", will run for 13 episodes and is set to debut in late 2021. It takes place in the aftermath of the "Blade Runner Black Out 2022" short film, and is set to air on the Adult Swim Toonami network, and stream on Crunchyroll.