Dredd is one of those projects that lingers after its unfortunate failure, gripping onto the edge of the abyss. We know it will fall in eventually — despite strong DVD sales, fan support, and interest from those involved with the first one — but logic doesn’t quash hope. And hope is rarely in short supply with projects like this, thanks to creators and stars who keep fading embers orange during press junkets and conventions. “You never know” and “never say never,” serving as their shrugging reply to all questions about sequels because of their own hope and love for a project, and because you don’t, and you shouldn’t, even when the writing is on the wall, and you kinda do, and you sorta should.
Dredd screenwriter Alex Garland (who directed the well-received upcoming sci-fi film Ex Machina) isn’t shrugging his shoulders or farming out hope nuggets to Dredd fans. Two months after essentially saying that he expected another Judge Dredd reboot over a sequel at some point, Garland made it even clearer, stating, “There isn’t, as far as I can tell, going to be a Dredd sequel,” before citing the film’s paltry box office tally as a reason why.
“But what about the DVD sales?” you may ask. Well, Garland just doesn’t seem to see the point.
“And I understand and appreciate the support the film has had, and the campaigns that have existed for it, and it’s really genuinely gratifying — I love it in all respects except one, which is when I hear about people buying copies of the DVD in order to boost sales and to change the figures. And what I want to say to them is, ‘Don’t do that. Keep your money.’ Because the people that are making the decisions are much colder and harder than that,” he continued. “And the graphs they’re looking at are not really going to be sufficiently dented by that.”
The counter to that argument is, of course, Firefly and Family Guy, two projects that earned a hand up from the edge of the abyss thanks to fan support and DVD sales, but the shine of success stories won’t hide the many other shows that garnered fierce support by way of people’s mouths and wallets and still fell away, like, for instance, a Serenity sequel.
The facts are that Dredd cost approximately $50 million to produce, and it only made $13 million in the U.S. and $22 million worldwide. It sucks to hear (and to say), but studios are too risk-averse to bankroll a sequel to something with those stats (no matter if their marketing campaign sucked), especially because the DVD sales are a mirage that has been partially juiced by the faint hope that each DVD sale will inch Dredd 2 closer to existence, a motive that people wouldn’t have once they got their sequel. And don’t say crowdfunding and Veronica Mars because, like a Serenity sequel, the budget to do even a bare-bones Dredd sequel would probably be too high for crowdfunding alone. Essentially, a Dredd sequel is out of reach for a variety of reasons, and Alex Garland is simply acknowledging that and probably becoming a villain to some in the process.