Dredd 2 is dead.
It was never even a real possibility, as much as we campaigned for it.
But the first Dredd movie released in 2012 was such a phenomenal smash that it’s almost criminal that we never got one. What everyone thought would be some low-scale, low-budget, low-effort sci-fi B-Movie turned out so much better! Dredd was a pretty standard buddy cop-esque affair, with Judge Dredd and his new rookie partner getting trapped in an apartment complex and forced to fight their way out. It was a mix of Die Hard and The Raid, so you generally knew what to expect. But it was directed so well, written so well, acted so well, that it was a revelation. Why did a mid-budget movie LOOK so good? Why was it so much FUN? Why had Karl Urban never been a leading man before now?
Sadly, the movie bombed. I only saw it at the second-run cheap theater, so I didn’t help much myself. It lost a bunch of money and Lionsgate took a big loss on it.
People who saw this movie loved it. Basically every action or sci-fi fan talked about Dredd like it was the new standard for the genre. Even before it left theaters, it was already a cult classic. I suspect that part of the first John Wick’s success two years later was that nobody wanted it to bomb like Dredd; fans rushed to theaters and then it actually became a sleeper hit.
Naturally, people wanted more of Judge Dredd. Dredd 2 was deeply on the minds of action movie fans, sci-fi movie fans, and comic fans everywhere. On basically every nerd-based movie website, you’d see that grassroots energy building.
Back in 2013, 2014 times, there was reason to be optimistic about Dredd 2. Movies often got greenlit for sequels despite middling box offices, and home video could really change stuff anyway. Word about movies like Pacific Rim 2 (oops), Tron 3 (oopser), and Hellboy 3 (oopsest) all increased excitement for Dredd 2 fans.
Thus the campaigns began. Letter mailing in the digital age, AKA basically spamming comments and sharing posts. Lifting up every single Judge Dredd-related project just to boost the profile for this hopeful sequel.
But It Was Impossible
It was not to be.
You see, Dredd wasn’t just a normal bomb. Yeah, Pacific Rim may not have been a smash, and Tron Legacy sold more as a soundtrack than a film, but both movies still basically profitted, which is why their sequels were greenlit (then slammed into development hell soon after). But Dredd 2 was going to be a sequel to a film that couldn’t even top $30 million at the box office; that’s terrible!
Plus, Lionsgate, a smaller studio than the Big Five majors, made many complex international deals for the first film. They sold off international rights to help fund the project and minimize their own exposure, and that process made developing a sequel extremely difficult. The movie flopped in basically every territory, so why would those overseas distributors want to go back for more?
The big streamers were similarly hesitant. Remember, this was a time right when House of Cards and Arrested Development Season Four had first premiered; Netflix was where you want to watch tons of TV and movies from oher studios, not to find big new original content. A new sci-fi project, even one with a smaller name like Karl Urban, didn’t have much appeal.
The campaigns for Dredd 2 were just a few years too early. In the 20s, now that we have not only Netflix and Hulu and Amazon, but Disney and HBO and Paramount and Peacock, it’d be much more feasible. The studios are all out here spending mega-bucks looking for new draws, and Judge Dredd would be the perfect fit for a mid-budget, recognizable property with huge fan appeal. If The Witcher can be a huge hit, so can our favorite morally black policeman. Sadly, the Dredd 2 campaign was in 2013, not 2018.
Dredd 2… But Not Actually
They announced some deal with Judge Dredd and Netflix a while back. There was some really minor news from 2020 saying it was still “in development” but halted, which is probably code for “this is never actually coming out.”
We’ll probably get new Judge Dredd content in the future. Almost definitely. The character and world, the dark satire and grim tone, speaks even louder in the 20s than it did in the 10s. Police brutality and authoritarian dystopias are extremely popular topics now, and I can bet you we’ll get a really good show out of it one day. But it’ll be something new, something inspired by but not directly related to Dredd. No Karl Urban acting, no Alex Garland writing.
A lot of those big fan-requested sequels failed, but Dredd 2 is the one that hit me hardest. Well, Pacific Rim 2 hit me hardest, but I guess a version of that did come out later, which is OK. But with Dredd, it was such a positive experience campaigning for it that I really thought it might work. Operation Rainfall, sadly, gave me too much hope.
I guess I’ll just have to keep rewatching the really good movie we got. Oh, and the 1995 one with Sylvester Stallone too, but only when I’m in the mood for 90s cheese.
I still hope Alita: Battle Angel‘s fan campaigns succeed. Even if the fandom around it has often been pretty toxic…