It's been more than 30 years since Ridley Scott's sci-fi flick "Blade Runner" first hit theaters, and at long last, a sequel is set to begin production later this year. Now, that long-awaited follow-up has an official release date, though its location on the Hollywood calendar has provoked some head scratching.

Here's what we can say for certain so far: Studio Warner Bros. has announced January 12, 2018 as the release date for "Blade Runner 2," which will be overseen by original director Ridley Scott, and toplined by returning star Harrison Ford and new addition Ryan Gosling. Throw in original co-writer Hampton Fancher, back to co-write the sequel script, and director Denis Villeneuve, hot off critical darlings "Prisoners" and "Sicario," and you have quite the impressive pedigree for a project some three decades in the making.

That pedigree is precisely why so many industry watchers are confused about the aforementioned release date, though. It's long been known that January is considered a dumping ground for less-than-stellar Hollywood projects. But with its high nostalgia factor, talented crew, and big-name cast, "Blade Runner 2" doesn't exactly appear to be one of them. So why the apparent banishment to January?

As Collider speculates, that day could actually be the wide release date, with a limited December 2017 run -- just in time for Oscar eligibility -- planned out later for awards-seeking purposes. It's the same strategy that Warner Bros. took with "American Sniper," which wound up with a bunch of Oscar nominations (not to mention other awards season love), and a huge box office haul, too; WB may be hoping to recreate that success with "Blade Runner 2."

Whatever the reasoning, fans of the original are no doubt thrilled that this flick is happening at all, and has a real, tangible release in sight. Production on "Blade Runner 2" begins this summer. Perhaps an Oscar campaign will follow?

[via: Collider]