Karl Urban is interested in returning to the role of Judge Dredd for a forthcoming television series. That will probably come as quite a surprise to those of you who weren’t aware that Karl Urban had ever played Judge Dredd in the past, but it actually happens to be one of the actors’ favorite-ever roles. Back in 2012, the movie “Dredd” hit cinema screens around the world and flopped miserably. It was too high-budget to be seen as a B-movie, and too low-budget to be seen as a blockbuster. It also fell into the unfortunate trend of the past decade’s early years, which was to needlessly use 3D as a marketing tool. With all of these factors working against it, it made barely over $40m at the box office against a budget of $50m.
“Dredd” appeared to be forgotten the moment its run at movie theaters was over, and Karl Urban went back to doing other work. He made another two “Star Trek” movies in the role of Dr. McCoy and then landed a leading part in “The Boys,” which has delighted audiences on Amazon Prime. In the meantime, several years after “Dredd” was written off as a box office disaster, people began to discover the movie on streaming services. Without the hype and the 3D effects, audiences watching at home began to realize that it was quite a good film. It made almost as much through DVD sales and streaming as it did through ticket sales during its theater run, and talk of a sequel of kinds began.
At this stage, we are not talking about a return of Judge Dredd to the big screen. The property is still scorched earth there. It could conceivably return to the small screen, though, and that might happen before any of us expect. In fact, 2000AD comics head Jason Kingsley has recently confirmed that a full TV series has already been developed, and the scripts are already written. All he needs now is someone to come in with money and pay for the show to be made. He even suggested that he had a funding agreement in place before the pandemic began, but its arrival blew everything off course. Kingsley stopped shy of confirming which party (or parties) had been interested in providing funding and taking ownership of the project, but he appeared to imply that Netflix might have been involved. If they were interested in the idea once they might be persuaded to take an interest a second time around, and we know someone who would be very interested in the part.
Even though “Dredd” was technically a blight on Karl Urban’s movie career, the New Zealand-born actor still has tremendous affection for the part. He was a fan of the character of Judge Dredd before he agreed to appear in the first film, and feels that the movie was harshly treated by critics and misunderstood by audiences on first viewing. He’s taken its subsequent reappraisal through streaming as a form of vindication and didn’t hesitate for a second when he was asked if he’d be interested in putting the bodysuit and the helmet on for a TV show. His answer was short and to the point. He told Digital Spy that they could “bet their bottom dollar” that he’ll be there if the show gets the green light. He even dropped a hint that he might have been sounded out about the prospect already when he told the publication that it was “too early to get into specifics” about the matter.
It might surprise fans of the character to hear that Urban, who is now approaching fifty years old, may be under consideration for the part. If that’s the case, it will probably surprise those same fans even more to hear that Jason Kingsley is also open to the prospect of Sylvester Stallone returning to the part in some capacity too. Stallone appeared in the title role of the 1995 “Judge Dredd” movie and is still the first “Judge Dredd” that people think of when they hear the name. As an example, it’s unmistakably Stallone’s face that appears on the official “Judge Dredd” online slots game at casino websites. That might be a Stallone thing, though; you’ll also see the veteran actor’s face on the official online slots of the “Rambo” and “Rocky” films. Perhaps there’s a strong crossover between Sylvester Stallone fans and online slots fans, or maybe Stallone just really loves online slots like Retro galaxy slot games. In either event, Stallone is now 74 years old. He was barely convincing the last time he played John Rambo. Playing Judge Dredd again would be an even bigger stretch.
We might be reading too much into what Jason Kingsley meant when he said that he’d like both Stallone and Urban to appear. He said that he’d like to see them ‘return,’ along with Olivia Thirlby, who played Cassandra Anderson in the 2012 film. In this context, “return” might have meant something as brief as a cameo, although it’s doubtful that either actor would agree to that. The idea of Stallone agreeing to appear in a television show of any description seems unlikely at this stage of his career. Urban is clearly open to the suggestion, but it may be that with a brand new show, Jason Kingsley decides to take a brand-new direction. Most reimaginings or reboots of popular shows involve the telling of origin stories, and a 50-year-old actor can’t do that for the character of Judge Dredd. It seems likely that a younger performer will get the role. Perhaps Urban could be offered one of the more significant supporting roles.
The news that a whole season of a new Judge Dredd television show (allegedly titled “Dredd: Mega-City One”) has already been written will doubtless be hugely exciting for the character’s fans. If you’re one of that number, don’t hold your breath just yet. As much as Kingsley has tried to make light of the issue, losing funding after completing the scriptwriting process is a huge deal, and there’s no guarantee that another company will step in to provide it. The “Judge Dredd” franchise has suffered a number of false starts in the past decade. This might be a new dawn, or it could be just another one of those false starts.
Laila Azzahra is a professional writer and blogger that loves to write about technology, business, entertainment, science, and health.