For action fans, one of 2012's biggest surprises was also one of its biggest box office bombs. After a campy and oft-maligned adaption of Judge Dredd in 1995, starring Sylvester Stallone, director Pete Travis rebooted the character in Dredd. Despite strong reviews from comic book fans and critics alike, Dredd only made $13 million at the domestic box office for a total haul (including international ticket sales) of $35 million - $15 million short of its production budget.
Word of mouth helped the film bring in extra sales when Dredd hit DVD and Blu-ray but, despite the success at retail, the film's producer, Adi Shankar, is now saying that a sequel is unlikely. The official word from Shankar will be disappointing news for fans - especially those hoping to see star Karl Urban take-on the Dark Judges. However, the producer offered one piece of consolation: he intends to shoot a Judge Dredd short - in the vein of last year's viral Punisher fan-flick "Dirty Laundry".
"Dirty Laundry" was produced by Shankar - bringing back Thomas Jane as the Punisher in a hard-R rated 10 minute film that sees Frank Castle brutalize a gang of street thugs. Debuting during Comic-Con 2012, the short was a hit among fans and has since racked up over 3.5 million official views.
If you haven't seen "Dirty Laundry," check it out below:
"Dirty Laundry" didn't tempt Hollywood executives into considering another Punisher film - after the disappointing performance of the Ray Stevenson starring Punisher: War Zone - but that was never Shankar's intention with the project. Instead, the producer considers the Punisher short a gift to fans - same goes for the upcoming Judge Dredd effort.
Shankar confirmed the short during a Reddit AMA (ask me anything) - when answering the question, "Will Dredd have a sequel?"
Shankar: Probably not. But I am working on a Dredd short in the vein of #DirtyLaundry ... you're actually the first person to know about this.
The producer later elaborated, calling the Dredd sequel "highly unlikely" while promising that short film will be "dope." He also took the opportunity to voice his frustration over the film's marketing - especially the choice to position the film as Dredd 3D, instead of simply Dredd (with 2D and 3D showings). After Reddit commenters pointed out that 3D in the title positioned the film as a B-Movie, Shankar was quit to agree:
Shankar: Ugh sooooooooooooooooooo agree with you RE adding 3D to the title. Ewww [...] It also screams gimmick which is sad because the 3D in Dredd was so not a gimmick.
Dredd has its critics (there are legitimate shortcomings in the film) but overall the movie delivered a solid adaptation of the Judge Dredd character - with a great performance from Urban (and even memorable use of 3D). It's unfortunate the Shankar and Travis will not get a chance to explore the character further on the big screen - since it would have been fun to see Dredd battle even bigger threats outside of Peach Trees (along with the fascist side of judging). The version of Mega-City One shown in the film's opening teased a world full of criminals in need of judgement - especially if the filmmakers really were committed to the Dark Judges storyline.
At this point, it's hard to know what Shankar has planned for the Dredd short film but "Dirty Laundry" worked on a very small scale with a familiar comic book set-up (brooding hero beats bad guys to a pulp). For that reason, it's hard to imagine that fans will get to see Dredd go toe-to-toe with bigger series foes: Mean Machine Angel, or the aforementioned Dark Judges, among others.
Still, who wouldn't want to see Karl Urban back in the Dredd gear punching villains in the face?
Dredd is out now on DVD and Blu-Ray
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for future updates on Dredd as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.