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Dredd 2 - Will It Ever Happen?

While American superheroes from Marvel and DC Comics have dominated the superhero movie genre for decades, only one major British original has managed to make any kind of dent in Hollywood: Judge Dredd. Created by John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra, and Pat Mills, Judge Dredd is a helmeted law enforcer who fights crime in the dystopian fascist future state of Mega City One. 

Blurring moral lines, Dredd was first published in the pages of the British comic book anthology "2000 AD" in 1977. His first assault on cinemas was in 1995 with "Judge Dredd," a box office bomb and a misguided action-comedy starring Sylvester Stallone as the grimacing gun-wielding galoot. It would be more than 20 years before we'd see the character back in theaters, but when we did, it was everything fans could have hoped for. 

Written and shadow directed by Alex Garland — who deferred filmmaking credit to Peter Travis — "Dredd" starred Karl Urban in the title role, and it was a stripped-down, straight-forward action movie that saw the law-giver battling a ruthless drug kingpin name Ma-Ma, played by Lena Headey of "Game of Thrones" fame. Landing to a positive reception from critics and applause from audiences, many expected a sequel, but the box office bucks just weren't enough to justify it. Since its release in 2012, fans have been clamoring for a follow-up, but more than a decade later, there remains only scant news, and the question remains: Will a Dredd sequel ever happen?

Why isn't Dredd 2 happening yet?

An instant cult classic, "Dredd" may be the epitome of a beloved fan-favorite comic book movie that never found the success it deserved. While the film may have been met with applause from moviegoers and even good reviews from critics, it struggled to eke out a decent profit at the box office. At the end of its theatrical run, in fact, "Dredd" couldn't even scrape together enough ticket sales to make back its relatively modest $45 million budget, making it not just a disappointment but a downright flop.

"The unfortunate theatrical release of 'Dredd' and the manner in which it was mishandled made it problematic for 'Dredd 2' to be immediately funded and produced in the same fashion," star Karl Urban told Den of Geek in 2016. The actor clearly isn't happy with the way the movie was marketed, saying there was "zero audience awareness" for the film. However, he's also pointed out that the popularity "Dredd" achieved after its theatrical run has indeed bolstered the chances of a sequel, while the rise of streaming services like Netflix and Amazon provide another possible route, too. "I'm amenable to being involved in any legitimate and worthy follow up to 'Dredd,' whether it be another theatrical release or a Netflix/Amazon targeted production."

As of 2023, however, despite the rumor mill frequently spinning up unverified talk of "Dredd 2" being in development, there's been no solid evidence of sequel materializing anytime soon.

What have the cast and crew said about a Dredd sequel?

No matter how much time seems to pass since the release of "Dredd," those involved seem to always find themselves fielding questions about a sequel, proving just how enduring the original film really is. Karl Urban, who currently stars on Amazon's "The Boys," has been consistent in his interest for "Dredd 2." 

"You know, I certainly would be interested to revisit the character," Urban told GQ in a 2022 video interview. "There's just such a great depth of material there that was written by John Wagner and various writers over the years, particularly stories revolving around [Dredd villain] Judge Death and a lot of great stories." Urban isn't the only one who wants back in either, as his co-star Olivia Thirlby — who played rookie Judge Cassandra Anderson — has also spoken out about her desire for more.

Yet there's one person who may not be so interested in returning, and that's screenwriter, editor, and uncredited director Alex Garland, who was firm when asked if he had interest in helming a sequel. "No. ['Dredd'] was a pretty crude experience, for a bunch of reasons," Garland told IndieWire. "At the end of it, I didn't want to go back. I love Dredd, by which I mean I love the character, but I'm not in any hurry to do that again." So if there is going to be a sequel to "Dredd," it sounds like it may need a new filmmaker at the helm.

What could be explored in a Dredd sequel?

Though it's been years of trying to get a "Dredd" sequel off the ground with little to show for it, it might be surprising to learn that there's already been some work done on a potential story. Before Alex Garland had sworn off returning, he'd spent some time developing ideas for not just one but two additional "Dredd" films. That comes to us from the writer and director himself, who appeared at the London Film and Comic Con in 2012 ahead of the first movie's premiere and told fans about what he had in store.

"If they want to make sequels, I've got a story that goes from this one into the origins of Dredd and the city," he told the audience. "Then the third one would have a strange, existential attack from the Dark Judges." For those who don't know, the Dark Judges are villains from an alternate dimension. Led by Judge Death, they believe the very act of living is a crime — so everyone is on their hit list. But actor Karl Urban has his own ideas.

"Look, there's many places that I'd like to see that character go," he told IGN in 2013. "I personally would like to see almost an origin story. To see how that world got the way it got. ... In the world of 'Dredd,' humanity has given up. There's a dystopian vision of the future. I'd really like to see how it got that way, how the Judges came to be. To me that's interesting. ... Go out into the desert and try and search for the origins of the Judges, then to introduce Judge Death." 

No matter what ideas have been put forth so far, though, there's no telling what way a sequel could go, considering the more than 40 years of comic book stories to mine from.

Who would star in a Dredd sequel?

The only person who might want a sequel more than the movie's fans might be the film's star, Karl Urban, who seems desperate to return to his fan-favorite role. "Listen, I would love to make it, I'm on the record saying that a bunch of times," Urban told a crowd of attendees at C2E2 in 2020. "I'm a fan of Dredd, and there's so many great stories there. I'd love to see them. And I have no doubt that, someday, someone will make it. It's just a matter of time."

Co-star Olivia Thirlby also says she'd love a chance to once again suit up as psychic Judge Anderson. "First of all, let me just say, I was always the number one advocate of getting a sequel for 'Dredd.' I love that movie, and I love that character. If there is still talk of there being a sequel 10 years later, I am all for it," she told Collider in an episode of the podcast Collider Ladies Night. Thirlby went on to add, "The Anderson that [writer and director Alex Garland] wrote was so thoughtful and sensitive and nuanced and empowered and powerful ... and that journey of her finding herself and her true strength is what I love so much about that movie and what I felt like, as an actor, it was so meaty to lean into that role."

How do fans feel about a Dredd sequel?

If you don't think a fan-driven campaign for a sequel or revival can have a tangible impact, just ask Zack Snyder, whose legions of followers practically willed the director's cut of "Justice League" into existence. And few other campaigns led by diehard movie fans have been as strong or as vocal as the ones who are trying to make "Dredd 2" a reality.

It all started with a web-based petition started by fans that totaled in excess of 80,000 signees. The campaign reached such a degree of fervor that even Dredd's publisher, Rebellion, acknowledged and endorsed it, helping to push the petition to more and more supporters. Together, they established September 18th, 2013 as the official "Dredd Sequel Day of Action," which asked fans to show their support by buying DVDs of the first film or paying for a digital download. While it might not lead to any direct result, the intention was to show the movie studios the amount of fan support there was and that they were willing to spend real money to make a sequel happen.

"I'm constantly blown away by the fan support and love for 'Dredd,'" star Karl Urban said to Den of Geek, and he even released a video message in support of the fans' effort. "I'd love to give the audience who loved 'Dredd' more because there's literally not a day that goes by where people don't bring up that film," he told Birth.Movies.Death. in 2017.

What happened to the Dredd spin-off TV series?

Fans got an unexpected surprise in 2017 with the announcement of a live-action TV series titled "Judge Dredd: Mega-City One." Like "Dredd," the series would be set in the dystopian future megalopolis, but instead of focusing on a singular anti-hero, it would be an ensemble. If it were up to Karl Urban, though, he'd be back as Judge Dredd.

"I'm not attached to it, although I did have a preliminary round of conversations with them," said Urban in an interview with TrekMovie in 2018. "I am interested in doing it. There are a lot of great stories to tell there. ... Their idea for 'Mega-City One' is basically to build the show around more rookie judges and young, new judges, and Dredd would come in and out, and I said that I'll do it, but it has to be done in a meaningful way."

Rebellion CEO Jason Kingsley, meanwhile, doesn't think a Mega-City One series would preclude "Dredd 2," and he sees both happening at some point. "I want there to be a sequel," he said on the V2A Freak Show TV YouTube channel. "Hopefully things can kick off in all sorts of different areas of making film and TV — it's just, it's all very messed up at the moment for everybody," he said, citing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as a reason for some of slowness of getting the movie and the series off the ground. 

Still, with more than six years having past since its initial announcement and nothing to show for it, it seems as if "Mega-City One" may be in the same limbo as "Dredd 2."

What's standing in the way of Dredd 2?

Obviously, the lack of financial success for "Dredd" is the biggest stumbling block standing in the way of a sequel. But combined with the previous Stallone-led adaptation bombing in theaters, could Judge Dredd be seen as box office poison to studio executives? Worse yet, the landscape for movies has only gotten tougher over the past decade, with major billion-dollar blockbusters seemingly the only movies getting major theatrical releases, leaving mid-budget action flicks like a potential "Dredd" follow-up hung out to dry.

At the same time, even if someone does decide that there's real potential in a "Dredd" sequel, it might not be as easy to secure the services of leading man Karl Urban, who is hotter than ever these days. With his role on Amazon's "The Boys" and his success in the "Star Trek" franchise, his price surely hasn't gotten any cheaper, while scheduling could prove to be another problem. But based on what we've heard from Urban himself, it doesn't sound like he'd let that stand in the way.

Why there's no better time for Dredd 2

While there's plenty of reasons we haven't seen a "Dredd" sequel and plenty more still holding it back, the truth is that there may be no better time than now to make it happen. And it seems like those involved are well aware of how Hollywood has changed its view on violent, R-rated comic book movies over the past 10 years.

"'Dredd' has definitely achieved a cult like status, I believe, like 'Blade Runner,'" said Karl Urban in an interview with Den of Geek. "It was ahead of its time, but not by much. The recent success of 'Deadpool' has demonstrated a strong audience demand for R-rated graphic novel films." And he's not wrong. Between "Deadpool," "Joker," and "Logan," there's a real appetite for R-rated comic book adaptations featuring violent anti-heroes, and they've proven capable of raking in hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office.

Likewise, with legacy sequels more popular than ever, moviegoers have shown that a long wait may not be such a bad thing. In fact, more than a decade later, a "Dredd" sequel may be an even bigger draw as some may have a nostalgia for the first movie. At the same time, the film's stinging social satire of authoritarianism and government control couldn't be more relevant today, and it feels like it's just a matter of time before a movie studio realizes just how ripe things are for a "Dredd" sequel.