Here's Why We Probably Won't See A Dredd Sequel

(Welcome to Will There Be a Sequel?, a series where we answer that question and explore what comes next.)

"Dredd" was released nearly 10 years ago, and a vocal subset of fans have been clamoring for a sequel ever since, frequently lobbing questions at star Karl Urban about his possible involvement. But as much as those fans (and Urban himself) might want to see the gang get back together, a "Dredd" sequel seems extremely unlikely at this point. Here's what we know.

Previously in Dredd

Set in the future in a massive city, "Dredd" follows a pair of Judges, who act as judge, jury, and executioner in the ongoing fight against crime. (In a city of 800 million people, the crime rate is exceptionally high.) Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) and a young recruit with psychic abilities named Cassandra (Olivia Thirlby) answer a call about a triple murder at a 200-story residential tower. Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), the drug lord who holds the tower in her iron grasp, locks the Judges in the building when they arrive, forcing them to fight their way through her goons if they want to reach her at the top.

The film's plot is pretty self-contained; it technically leaves room for more stories in that world, but it's also a pretty clean end to the story in the event that nothing else ever happens with this property.

Will There Be a Sequel?

In 2019, writer Alex Garland was asked if he would ever want to return to make a "Dredd" sequel. His response seemingly put a nail in the coffin:

"No. It was a pretty crude experience, for a bunch of reasons. At the end of it, I didn't want to go back. I love Dredd, by which I mean I love the character, but I'm not in any hurry to do that again."

One of the reasons Garland may have had a negative experience was because director Pete Travis was reportedly locked out of the editing room because of creative arguments he had with the producers over the direction of the film. While Travis and Garland tried to put a positive spin on that development at the time, Urban confirmed years later that Garland's involvement with the film went far deeper than the public knew:

"A huge part of the success of 'Dredd' is in fact due to Alex Garland and what a lot of people don't realize is that Alex Garland actually directed that movie."

Garland did not receive a directing credit on the film, and the entire experience seems to have left a bad taste in his mouth. Still, this is Hollywood, where intellectual property and name recognition reign supreme. The "Judge Dredd" brand is far more valuable than any one man. So will fans ever see Judge Dredd on screen again?

A Different Medium

The last update we heard was from Karl Urban, just before the pandemic hit in early 2020:

"Listen, I would love to make [a 'Dredd' sequel], I'm on the record saying that a bunch of times. I don't know if that's gonna happen. I think that the guys that own the rights to Dredd, Rebellion, I think they're developing something called 'Mega-City One' and it would just be great to see more Dredd, whether it's with me or not, it doesn't matter. I'm a fan of Dredd and there's so many great stories there. I'd love to see them. And I have no doubt that, someday, someone will make it. It's just a matter of time."

'Mega-City One' is a Judge Dredd TV show that doesn't focus solely on Dredd himself, but instead expands the scope to be about the brutal, take-no-prisoners police force in the futuristic city, which takes up a majority of the east coast of the United States. A pilot script was reportedly completed a few years ago, and Urban said he was in discussions about reprising his role for that series. But there have not been any significant updates since then, and the television project remains in limbo.

Personally, I hope "Mega-City One" ends up happening. One of the 2012 film's shortcomings is that it was such a tightly contained story that it didn't have time to really explore that sprawling megalopolis in a satisfying way. With presumably more hours at its disposal, a series set in that world could spend time showing more of the Judge program and how the Judges interact with the jaw-dropping population of that fictional city. Considering our society's evolving relationship with policing in the United States, there may be no better time for a follow-up.