Adaptations are always pretty tricky things to handle when to comes to the world of Hollywood, if only because studios seem to pretty consistently screw around with the source material to the point of ruin (see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice).
But in the midst of a series of graphic novel character adaptations there’s the hidden gem that is the psychedelically hyper-violent Dredd, the second and most successful big-screen outing of 2000 AD’s Judge Dredd.
Starring Karl Urban in the titular role, Dredd released worldwide back in 2012, charting a beautifully violent tale of a dystopian future in which the USA has become an uninhabitable wasteland. The last dregs of humanity survive in the violent and brutal Mega-City One, which is policed by the equally unforgiving Judges.
Despite garnering a generally positive critical and extremely positive fan response Dredd fell at the first stumbling block, barely managing to cover production costs with a lacklustre box office of $41.5 million on a budget of $30–45 million.
It’s a curious one — like most cult films Dredd went all but ignored when it first released, but has gone on to sell well through home media and become the centre of more than one fan campaign to get that elusive sequel made. Urban himself has been a vocal supporter of these campaigns, and he’s keen to reprise the role as a long running fan of Judge Dredd himself.
The particulars of the matter of Dredd‘s failure are seemingly not lost on Urban, as he described the movie’s poor box-office performance as “a failure in marketing” during a recent roundtable discussion ahead of the release of his upcoming film, Star Trek Beyond.
“‘Dredd’ represented a failure in marketing. I saw the tracking of that film weeks before it came out and the fundamental problem was no one knew it was being released. Once it came out on DVD and it sold 750,000 copies in the first week alone in North America alone, it was very clear that the audience had discovered it.”
It’s a reasonable accusation to make, especially as box-office breaking comic book adaptation blockbusters the likes of Captain America: Civil War and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice featured marketing campaigns so encompassing it was difficult to get away from them, never mind not be aware of their presence.
But, hope is not yet lost. From the looks of things Urban is still very interested in following up with a sequel, as he says he’s been in conversation with Jason Kingsley, the co-founder of Rebellion — the comic published who own the rights to Judge Dredd himself — regarding the future of the franchise.
“I think [Dredd] had a huge disservice done to it, I’m amenable to being part of a legitimate and worthy followup to that film. I’m open to looking at any sort of limited exploration of that and in any medium. The fans are demanding to have more and it would be a real privilege to continue that story. There’s just a goldmine of fantastic stories in the 2000 AD Judge Dredd canon that would be really marvelous to see on screen.”
And a goldmine there is — the Judge has been around for nearly 30 years in the pages of 2000 AD and beyond. Dredd was a good start, but we’ve barely yet scratched the surface of the world of Mega-City One, and the stories of its 800 million inhabitants.
Hopefully one day Dredd will get the sequel it deserves, as Judge Dredd himself would say to the studio executives making these decisions: “are you paying attention, creeps?”
What’s your favorite moment from Dredd? Tell us in the comments below!