Despite glowing reviews, the big budget follow-up to cult sci-fi classic Blade Runner failed to impress at the box office on its opening weekend. The film, directed by Arrival and Sicario's Denis Villeneuve, took just $31.5m (£24m) at the US box office.

Variety reports that the film had been expected to draw $45m-$50m domestically, taking into account its R rating, but fell short. Blade Runner 2049 did fare better worldwide however, making an additional $50m.

A worldwide total of $82 million means the film isn't a complete bomb, but Warner Bros would have been hoping to pass $100 million over the opening weekend. It was, however, number one in most territories.

Made on a budget of $150m, typically studios spend roughly $100 million again on marketing, meaning to be profitable Blade Runner 2049 needs around $250m. This should be achievable, if not through its cinema run then certainly through its home release.

The studio will be hopeful that strong word of mouth – should audiences agree with the many critics who have heaped praise on the stunning movie – will give the film legs at the box office.

As for why it has disappointed, Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore, points to the film not appealing to women.

"The core of enthusiastic and loyal Blade Runner fans were over 25 and predominantly male, and propelled the film as expected to the top spot," he said, "but a lengthy running time and lesser interest among females made it tougher for the film to reach the original weekend box office projections."

Perhaps this is partly due to the original film's questionable sexual politics, or because the marketing push focused on male stars Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford and scarcely included any one of its several important female characters.

Another factor is the original film's cult status. While it is beloved and renowned, its stature is born more from its place in cinematic history and visual accomplishments rather than any initial success.

Ridley Scott's 1982 neo noir was a box office flop, only becoming the classic it's now considered slowly, through re-releases and new cuts. Its success was slow-burning, rather than immediate, and it seems if 2049 is to be successful it will follow that same trend.

Set 35 years after the original, Blade Runner 2049 follows a new blade runner – Ryan Gosling's K – as he uncovers and investigates a mystery that could change everything for the film's near-future world of humans and biologically-engineered "replicants".