Talks of a Judge Dredd reboot occurred for years in the shadow of the poorly-received Sylvester Stallone version, which is fun on its own merits but awful as a Dredd adaptation. At last a faithful big-screen version of the graphic novel series arrived in the form of 2012’s Dredd, which was masterminded by a creative team who knew and loved the source, and wanted to do it justice. The result was a blast of R-rated awesomeness, one of the most surprising critical darlings of 2012. It’s the RoboCop of this era, and it’s on the same level as sci-fi classics like Blade Runner.
But nobody went to fucking see it, and Dredd died a brisk death at the global box office. It was a financial disaster, leading to a massive loss for the investors.
Although screenwriter Alex Garland had pre-emptively mapped out a cinematic Dredd trilogy, such plans were squashed in the wake of the first film’s failure. But word of mouth about Dredd eventually spread, and it became a massive cult hit on home video. So large the fanbase is, that the online community even staged a “Day of Action,” during which fans were encouraged to order the Blu-ray from Amazon. As a result of such labours on Amazon US and UK, the movie cracked the Top 5 best-selling Blu-rays for the day in both nations. How often does that sort of dedication come around?
The fans have spoken, and Dredd 2 needs to happen. But the desire is understandably overshadow by the fact that it would be a massive gamble. Is the market big enough to guarantee proper box office success for this go-round? Or will it become another money-losing flop?
Karl Urban is keeping hope alive for a sequel, recently stating that “conversations” are taking place between writer Alex Garland and the studio about the possibility of a sequel. Although it’s nice to know that there’s some kind of dialogue, there is still a long road to a Dredd 2 because of two factors:
1) The budget
2) The rating
No doubt, if a sequel was to occur, the studio would push for a PG-13 rating in an attempt to broaden profits, but nobody wants that. So it comes down to how much money can be thrown at Dredd 2 to retain an R-rating, and if a sequel would even be worth it if it was made for peanuts.
Here’s the thing: Dredd 2 does not need to be a lavish affair. The first film cost a maximum of $50 million, but a sequel can logistically slash these costs without compromising the finished product. Dredd was shot in 3D, which inflated the budget by a considerable margin – as much as $15 million was spent to facilitate 3D cameras, and rendering CGI in 3D. Get rid of the 3D, and we’re already saving money. 3D was pushed on the first movie in the wake of Avatar, but now we live in a world disillusioned with 3D, and some people reportedly avoided seeing Dredd in the cinema directly because of a lack of 2D showings. So, no 3D needed for Dredd 2! This already brings down the budget to as low as $35 million, a respectable price tag for an R-rated gamble. Riddick was made for $38 million, and look at the wonders that were done with such meagre funding!
Added to this, Dredd 2 would be a passion project for everyone involved, so the crew could take pay-cuts, or even just agree to a percentage of the profits. It’d be a gamble and everyone involved would need money flowing in to support themselves, sure, but actors like Urban are surely financially secure enough to do one movie for a reduced rate. Vin Diesel mortgaged his house to help funding for Riddick, and waived his actor’s fee!
Other cost-cutting measures can easily be implemented. For the scenes of Mega-City One, why not shoot in Detroit? The place is a shithole, it would cost peanuts to film in the city, and not much set dressing would be required. Dredd 2 would need to expand its scope and give us a tour of Mega-City One and the Cursed Earth, yet this doesn’t need to drive up its budget too much. It would be easy to imagine a respectable sequel being produced for $40 million, a price-tag that the first film has covered with its global home video sales alone.
It’s worth noting that some have posited the idea of a Kickstarter campaign for a Dredd 2, but it would never work. Even the most popular campaigns have never run over $5 million in donations, funding that wouldn’t put a dent in the costs needed for a proper sequel. Of course, a Kickstarter campaign could work as a starter – the studio could set it up to gauge interest, and if it reached, say, $2 million, then the rest of the bill would be footed by the studio. Not a bad idea.
The world needs more Dredd. At least a Dredd 2, but ideally a Dredd trilogy, or even a fully-fledged franchise. That’s obviously reaching for the stars right now, but I just really want a Dredd 2. It needs to happen, and could happen.