My e-mail regarding a sequel to Dredd

I have sent an e-mail to IM Global and DNA Films concerning the possibility of a sequel to Alex Garland’s Dredd. I discussed this very matter earlier on this Blog and you can find the e-mail addresses at the bottom of that article.

I hope I followed most of my advice.

I have asked for permission to publish copies of any response I receive, I have also invited direct response to this article. Of course as I say in the e-mail itself I do understand that given the amount of correspondence they receive I may not get any reply.

In the interest of fairness if I do not receive permission to publish a response I receive I will at the very least let you know I received a response.

Below is the body of my e-mail in its entirety.

Dear Sirs,

I am writing to you regarding the marvelous Dredd film that Alex Garland brought to us last year.

I’m a fan of 2000AD and particularly Judge Dredd and I run a small blog that I do comic, book, film, TV, etc reviews. The blog was first set up for a play by forum role-playing game that never took off. After seeing Dredd 3D for the first time I decided to do a review of my experience and the blog took off from there. I will be reproducing this letter on my blog so that my readers know what I have said in my communication to you.

I was fortunate enough to win the opportunity to see the film prior to release in London via a competition 2000AD ran on Twitter. You can see my reaction on the blog here. It was a marvelous experience that will remain with me for many years to come. But as a Dredd fan it could have been a huge let down, if Alex Garland had missed the mark.

Talking to Alex after the screening, among a group of fans as equally dedicated to the character as depicted in the comic, it was wonderful to hear more about the making of the film as well as Alex’s ideas for sequels.

Interestingly the look of the city and the Judges is something that many people misunderstood. Many of the comic fans, myself included, don’t have high regard for the Stallone film. The media always seem to concentrate on the ‘helmet’ issue. The uniform was closer to the comic version in that earlier film than in Alex’s version. But it wasn’t the removal of the helmet that caused the biggest issues, it was the great divergence from the character of Dredd and his world.

That is the success of Alex’s film. He took Dredd from the panels of a comic and translated the character of the man, the Justice Department and the world on to the screen.

More casual fans seem to have had more hang ups that the uniforms were different, that the city blocks were not as organic as many artists draw them and that the citizens were not as ‘way-out’ as in the comic. In particular this may have alienated some of the fans of the Stallone film who had read little or none of the original material.

Support for this film was and remains incredibly high among core fans of 2000AD as is obvious on the 2000AD forum. The fact that Alex had met with John Wagner and taken in to account his thoughts on the dialogue was heartening to us. I for one did not seek out the leaked script, I hate spoilers preferring to see a film as blind as possible. But to hear high praise from John Wagner and others was important in the early stages of the film’s production.

Alex engaged the fans but didn’t pamper to us. He did an excellent job.

I will digress here to also point out the huge interest generated by the fan film Judge Minty. If you look at my blog you will see I have written a lot on that film, including several interviews with cast and crew. Long term fans such as myself can embrace two very different films because both retain key elements of theme with the source material. The fans are most certainly not blinkered.

Given all I have said one must then ask, ‘why was the box-office so low?’.

The simplest answer to this is the misconceptions of the general cinema going public. Secondary to this is the increasing dissatisfaction with 3D.

The general cinema going public are not as well versed in Dredd as those of us that have read 2000AD for 36 years, obviously I’m not ignoring fellow readers that didn’t read Prog 2 in 1977. But simply put the core fan base is well educated that Dredd offers a huge opportunity for very different stories. There can be comedies, tragedies, thrillers, high-octane action, etc. But more casual readers or fans of the Stallone film are more likely to expect a story with sweeping scope.

The tight action and character driven plot in Dredd was perfect for the comic fans but perhaps was a little unexpected for the other viewers. But the main issue here was that perhaps the trailers didn’t quite sell the film to those that didn’t pas through the box-office. Though as I said earlier I hate spoilers I was still looking at the publicity. As I knew what was going on from the 2000AD forum I was better informed than those that were not.

Some research suggests that up to 70% of cinema goers prefer 2D films, or have difficulty seeing 3D. In fact the Eycare Trust revealed this year that 12% of the population cannot see 3D films for one reason or another. An article on SFX’s blog by Steven Ellis showed that of their readers more than 46% strongly disliked 3D and over 26% of the readers couldn’t watch 3D films. Personally I usually opt to see a 2D screening as most 3D films just go for the ‘ooo look it is coming towards you’ shot.

This said, and with to my understanding only 29 cinemas showing any 2D screenings, I saw the film in 3D, I saw it at least 6 times, once in London as stated at the opening of this e-mail and five times as a paying customer. The 3D Anthony Dod Mantel brought to this film was exquisite and was used wonderfully alongside the slow motion. Those that saw the film mostly embraced the 3D. It is just a big shame that there wasn’t that 2D option for others to take advantage of. The plot of the film actually utilised the 3D and slow motion, in my opinion it was an artistic triumph.

The DVD/Blu-ray release of the film does surely show that after the fact the film has entered a wider consciousness of the potential audience. It is a shame that the Blu-ray came with a forced 3D opt-in, it would have been interesting to see how many opted out given that 3D TV sales appear to still be increasing.

I strongly believe that if Alex is able to return to Judge Dredd as a topic and bring us one or more sequels the box-office takings would be higher and DVD/Blu-ray sales either as successful or indeed higher, clearly some people that didn’t go to the cinema to watch this film will not have bought the DVD/Blu-ray even though they would enjoy the film if they were to do so. I also think the project would be best with the return of Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby.

Clearly I understand that there is an audience for 3D films but I would suggest that evidence shows a greater success would come from mixed screenings at all or most cinemas. As the film has now been seen by a much wider audience that passed through the box-office the public would understand the publicity better.

I hope a sequel is not beyond hope.

I would be very grateful if I received a response from this missive, though I understand the volume of correspondence you must receive. I have given advice to my readers of how and how not to approach communicating with you on this matter. With your permission I would also like to put any response I received from you on to my blog so that my readers can see what you communicated to me. Of course your response directly on the blog itself would speak volumes to my readers.

Kindest regards.

Steve Hargett

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8 comments on “My e-mail regarding a sequel to Dredd

  1. andres1910 says:

    Now we wait, and hope for the best.

  2. Headologist says:

    An excellent letter. Completely agree on all counts, I have never been to see a 3D film – as you described it’s often a gimmick, I also have buggered up eyes and suffer from migraines and would rather not take the risk. Although I would like to see Dredd in 3D as it does seem to have been utilisied integrally to the film as you describe. Fingers crossed for a response.

  3. In less than 24 hours this article has become the top read on my blog of all time.

    I think that endorses the fact there is interest in a sequel.

    The creative team and the on screen talent did such a great job. They deserve the recognition as much as anything.

    Done right Dredd is good for quite a few sequels.

    If anyone reading this hasn’t seen Judge Minty you really should watch it. There are links on most of my interviews. Easy to find on You Tube.

    Visit the Minty site too http://www.Judgeminty.com

  4. Thomas Lynch says:

    Well done…on this, I agree with you. Thomas

  5. Wulfstan says:

    My feelings on the movie were very mixed. I think Karl did a good job as JD, especially in the close ups. The helmet and his facial expressions represented the Dredd I grew up with in the comics. Trouble for me is that is that it fell short after that.

    Before I continue, I know that John Wagner says it’s the Dredd he envisioned, but the big problem for me is it wasn’t the Dredd that he became in the comics. Nor was Mega City One or the Justice department.

    It has been mentioned that it wasn’t really possible to duplicate the comic Judge’s uniform as it was in practical. Problem is Judge Minty did, as well as a better version of the Lawmaster. They also managed to have a Mega City One that looked like the one from the comic and this was done by JD fans, not a studio.

    Anderson was ok, but again the background to her was weak. I can understand JD being the Judge that signed her off, but the whole mutant / psychic stuff was poorly done. MC1 has a whole department of Judge’s with such abilities, with it’s own department head. This wasn’t some sort of “new” project and Dredd would of been used to them, not looking at her as some sort of freak.

    Then there is the Justice Department. What one earth was going on there? It was treated as some sort of “Precinct 13” situation. There was no sense of what sort of power the Judges could rain down if need be, as seen in the comics. Dredd’s world also has the feeling of a dictatorship, not some cruel corrupt dictatorship, but a dictatorship all the same.

    So we move onto Dredd himself. The big thing for me was that he took down the perps in the same way as he does in the comic. This is comic book Dredd brought to life. Karl plays him well. There was some duff lines in there that just weren’t Dredd IMHO. There were also two other things that irritated me as well. Minor things, but as a fan they stood out. The first was Dredd basically torturing a perp. It’s the sort of action that has had Dredd take down a fellow Judge. The other was the death of Ma. Everything he did at the end is typical Dredd… apart from juicing her up with Slow Mo. The Dredd of the comics would of sent a Judge to Titan for that.

    Overall it was an ok Sci Fi movie, but it did leave me concerned that it would fail at the box office and we’d see no more of Dredd for a long time.

    I do agree about the 3d though. They were only showing it in 3D at my local screen and I tend to find that my eyes take the 3d for granted after 5 mins, so don’t see the point in paying for it.

    • I agree there is a fine line between interrogation and torture in the world of Dredd. Personally I let it go but I take your point. The Slo Mo though, yeah I think I have to agree it was out of character for comic Dredd. But from a whole film that isn’t much compared to the Stallone version that had little right about the character.

      I think the position with the Justice Department was so it had somewhere to develop to. That is just supposition, wish I’d asked Alex about that when I met him.

      Anderson – those changes were for the ‘real world’ feeling they wanted to go for, it was a thematic choice. Again a minor trade off compared to Fergie being a robot-repairman played for laughs instead of a man with learning difficulties who gives so much loyalty to his only friends he is willing to die for them.

      Most of the budget was swallowed on the 3D that Alex didn’t want… he had to choose “3D or no Dredd at all”. He didn’t have any say in the screenings obviously and I bet he wanted mixed screenings.

      On the uniforms. Daniel Carey-George (Minty Costume & Prop Designer) met with DNA & showed them his kit. They decided to go for more real world look as you know. Now I did talk to Alex about that and his respect for the Minty team, they were all there, was very obvious. Alex was at that time hoping his request for a Minty documentary on the Blu-ray would go ahead, again he had no say on the extras in the DVD/Blu-ray.

      I’ve interviewed many of the Minty cast & crew… wonder if I can get hold of Alex…

      • Wulfstan says:

        I certainly wouldn’t wish to dis’ Alex’s work as it was a good effort. It’s interesting to hear about the 3d issue and the affect it had on the budget. I really do wish they would let go of this whole 3d thing.

        In fairness to the film, the trailer caused me to drag out a ton of back issues of 2000AD and read through them. I’d also downloaded some JD books for my Kindle, so the comic book Dredd was fresh in my mind when the film came out.

        Hopefully the DVD / Blu Ray sales will make a second movie possible.

      • Sales have picked up again recently which is great.

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