We live in an age of sequels, remakes, and reboots, but somehow a number of the films that really deserve those treatments wind up on the scrapheap. For no franchise is this truer than Dredd – which isn’t a franchise at all, though not because of lack of trying. While many fans have kept the hope for a Dredd 2 alive, the screenwriter for the original film says that it is highly unlikely that the sequel will ever see the light of day.
Speaking to IGN in London, Alex Garland was pretty unequivocal in his feelings about a possible Dredd sequel.
My hope is, and I actually think this will happen – somebody else will do it. Not to be all coy and silly about it, but I think our film was better than the first one, right? Just to be blunt. And the job of the next people is to make their film better than ours. And then if they do that, then finally, maybe this character will break out in the way that it deserves to. But we’ll see.
Despite the outpouring of fan support for a sequel, Garland went on to say that he felt the film simply did not acquit itself the way that it should:
It makes me feel sad really. I feel grateful to the people who’ve attempted to get a sequel off the ground. And sorry that actually what happened was we let them down. Because the reality is that a film needs to acquit itself. It shouldn’t need a petition. And the truth is if it gets to the point where it needs a petition, it’s in big trouble anyway. That’s the cold hard reality of it. I feel a sense of residual guilt. It’s quite strong actually; it’s not that residual. Dredd was a very, very hard movie to work on, for all sorts of different reasons, and the reward would have been at the end of it that it all worked out. But it didn’t all work out. That’s the reality.
Finally, there is the money issue. Dredd would have led into two more films in a trilogy, each of them probably bigger and more complex than the last. That runs into money, of course, as Garland explains:
The first film we made it for about $35m, although quite a lot of that was to do with shooting it in 3D. Or a chunk of it. And we managed to make that film for that budget by locking it in a building essentially, sort of Die Hard-style. In the second film it was going to go out into the desert, which would be The Cursed Earth – people who know the comic book would know immediately what that means. And maybe throw some money at some key sequences. That’s how you do it I guess. I think we could have made it for another $30m, $35m type thing. We could have made it for $30m if we shot it in 2D. $35m maybe 3D I guess. Of that order. But the third one that would have been more expensive, because it would have been going back to the city and maybe bringing in some Dark Judges or something like that.
At the end of the day, it sounds like Garland probably would not be involved with a Dredd 2. It’s a sad, though unsurprising, statement to make.
Dredd has had a strong shelf-life after it failed to make box office bank, developing a passionate cult following and converting more than a few people with its quality. The first film allowed itself a level of violence and intensity seldom seen in comic book adaptations; rather than pulling punches, it followed through with all its might, and the results were astounding. Cast and crew have been very outspoken in their desire to make a sequel and even a trilogy, but Garland does not think it will come to pass. I guess we can always hope that he’s wrong on this one.