Fans loved Karl Urban in Dredd and were hopeful that he would be headlining a new Judge Dredd television series. The series Judge Dredd: Mega-City One has been in development for quite some time, and people have been clamoring for more information about this new show. But if a new rumor is to be believed, despite his name being in the title, it looks at though Judge Dredd might not be the lead character in this new series.
According to a rumor from The Vulcan Reporter, the main character will not be Karl Urban as Judge Dredd. For at least the pilot of the series, the lead character is America Jara, the daughter of a Puerto Rican who seeks a new start in Mega-City One. America Jara is a tragic character, who eventually falls into a life of terrorism and murder after the actions of the Judges.
Judge Dredd: Mega-City One will supposedly follow the story of the comic series, Judge Dredd: America, which tells the story of America Jara and her childhood best friend Bennett Beeny. After years apart, the two reunite, with Beeny a popular singer and America involved in a terrorist organization fighting against the Judges. This run was written by John Wagner, who also wrote A History of Violence. In this story, Karl Urban’s Judge Dredd is more of a supporting character than a lead.
While focusing on a character other than Judge Dredd in a Judge Dredd show might seem a bit nuts, every other version of Dredd that has come to screens has made him a co-lead of sorts. In 1995’s Judge Dredd, Sylvester Stallone’s Dredd was teamed up with Rob Schneider’s Herman “Fergie” Fergusson for most of the film. In the most recent film, 2012’s Dredd, Karl Urban’s version of the character was teamed up with Olivia Thirlby’s Cassandra Anderson.
In an interview with the YouTube show V2A Emergency Broadcast System, Jason Kingsley, head of 2000 AD comics – who produce the Judge Dredd comics – said that the show is close to filming, but recent events have gotten in the way. “Basically we can’t go into production because of the [coronavirus pandemic] and we’ve got scripts and everything is ready to go but the problem is, because of the pandemic and everybody’s funding changes and everybody’s shifting around.” Kingsley also said there hasn’t been a deal yet with a network or streamer that has signed up to carry Judge Dredd: Mega-City One, but those discussions are “quite a long way down the road.”
Back in 2019, Screen Geek discussed the show with 2000 AD’s Mike Molcher. In the interview, Molcher said of the show, “Think Hill Street Blues set in the world of Judge Dredd. We’re looking at an ensemble cast, really exploring the world, seeing it from the point of view not of Dredd, but of those who work around him and the kind of crazy crimes and the general madness that you get in a city of 400 million people confined to a much more smaller space.”
While America supposedly will be the lead of the pilot, Molcher’s comments make it seem like she’s just one part of a bigger piece. The comparison to Hill Street Blues is an interesting one since that show was groundbreaking for breaking from the usual television norms by telling a serialized story, following a specific character for multiple episodes, before following another. If Judge Dredd: Mega-City One wants to tell the story of an entire city rather than just the story of Judge Dredd, going with a Hill Street Blues formula sounds like a pretty smart way to handle this material.
But even with Judge Dredd: Mega-City One written and ready for production, there’s still the desire for a third Judge Dredd film. Earlier this year in a video taken at Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, the previous Dredd, Karl Urban, said about a possible sequel, “Listen, I would love to make it, I’m on the record saying that a bunch of times. I don’t know if that’s gonna happen.”
As reported by MovieWeb, Kingsley has stated that he would be open to having Karl Urban or Olivia Thirlby appear in Judge Dredd: Mega-City One, also stating, “Well if we can get people back, you know, we even joked that it would be quite fun to get Stallone back.” While it’s unsure if Stallone would like to make a return to this world, he certainly hasn’t shied away from bringing back his own properties over and over again.
Despite the long wait and desire for more Judge Dredd material from fans, the series hasn’t had the greatest success in the past. Judge Dredd made a little over $34 million domestically in 1995, with a worldwide take of $113 million, but against a budget of $90 million. Dredd was an even bigger disappointment, making only $13 million in the United States, and reaching $41 million worldwide, not quite earning back the $50 million budget. Fans loved Karl Urban in the role but that did not translate to box office dollars.
However, a television show that shows the scope and flaws of a judge/jury/executioner system could not only be extremely prescient right now but also a great way to present this story without the expectation of making back a large budget. Will Karl Urban be involved with the series? We anxiously await an answer.