You may not know this, but 2012's Dredd was an awesome movie. Sadly, it was also a positively epic box-office bomb. So what does the man who poured his heart and soul into the project think about the failure?
Screenwriter Alex Garland wrote one heck of a script for the mid-budget comic-book movie, which was basically a day-in-the-life story following Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) and Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) as they tried to keep the peace and escape from drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey). It's a tight focus, and it showed us just enough of Mega-City One to make us want to see so much more.
Sadly, despite some critical buzz, the film had an absolutely disastrous performance at the box office. Sure, DVD sales were actually pretty good, but it was all too little too late. Collider caught up with Garland to talk about what could've been, and the writer had some blunt thoughts on the disastrous result for what really was a great comic-book movie:
"The Dredd thing is a surprise. It's a really complicated set of emotions. I have a lot of regret about how things worked out with Dredd, but it's very gratifying. The regret it—you do a kind of transaction, particularly with the creators of it, which is that we want to do this thing and honor what you did, and try to do it properly, and then the film will reward that trust. That act of faith and trust and decency. And I think that the film rewarded them in one sense, but no in another. I do believe it rewarded them creatively, unless they're lying to me about that. But I think it has created this thing of this movie that fails. The story of Dredd is that of a failed movie. Both times, for f**k's sake. And to be party to that, when that was exactly the intention—to not do that—is kind of difficult.
And I also feel a sense of responsibility because I know there are these people who do this stuff like they've got money and they spend money on a DVD to try and up the chance of a sequel getting made. Because I don't have an online profile or persona or anything like that I can't speak to these people directly, but what I want to say is that's so good of you, and thank you, but keep your money because the people who make the decisions don't get moved by that kind of thing. They're moved by other stuff, other equations, other algorithms … It means something that these people support the film in that way, but the thing people want, which is a sequel, I don't think is going to happen. I think it will happen (let me rephrase that) I don’t think it's happening with me and the people who made the last one."
Ouch. But, you've got to respect Garland’s honesty. You can typically make the argument that if a film is good, it'll almost certainly find an audience — especially when we're talking a genre as insanely beloved as comic-book movies. But not Dredd. Perhaps it was the lingering memory of mediocrity from Stallone's 1995 version, or just a lack of awareness. Whatever it was, it's effectively killed what could’ve been one awesome franchise.
R.I.P., Dredd. We'll always have Peach Trees.