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Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Drokk to the box office

Bad movies fail at the box office all the time and so they should, but often good films also fail to find their audiences, and on times great movies fall flat - Such is the case with Dredd, which is more than simply a good film. In fact Dredd may be as close to perfect as any comic book adaptation will ever get.

When an early cut of the movie was shown at last year's Comic-con both fans and critics were in agreement - Dredd was a great movie, more than that it was something special. It was a comic book movie that was faithful to the source material and dared to aim for an adult audience.

So confident were the makers that there was talk of a sequel, even a whole series of movies that would feature much loved characters and themes from the Dredd comic book - The Angel Gang, the Robo-Wars, Judge Call and the epic Cursed Earth storyline.

Dredd it seemed was a sure box office winner, but when the film,marketed as Dredd 3D opened it was a huge shock as the film bombed titanically. During it's opening weekend the movie went belly up -  Dredd was produced with a 50 million dollar budget. It brought in 6.2 million dollars in North American box office returns, putting it in sixth place behind the likes of End of Watch, House at the End of the Street, and Trouble With the Curve.  And the movie never did pick up and remains a costly failure in terms of box office. Though critics and fans maintain that Dredd is an excellent movie - it holds a 77% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, higher than The Amazing Spider-Man.

So why did Dredd tank?

Was it the 3D? Personally it was the 3D aspect that kept me from catching the movie in the cinema. I couldn't find a 2D showing and I can't stand 3D which gives me a headache. A lot of people feel the same way and there are whole chunks of people who will not go to see a 3D movie. It didn't help that the film was pushed as Dredd 3D - this sounds too gimmicky and made the film sound like either a big Hollywood blockbuster or a children's movie when it is neither.

Was it the ghost of the Sylvester Stallone Judge Dredd movie? Stallone's Dredd was a crap waste of celluloid, but it's been a long time and thankfully the film is not that well know. So I don't think Stallone was responsible for the failure of Dredd.

Maybe the (18) rating didn't help. Maybe there should have also been a less violent 12A version of the movie. Dredd is wrongly perceived by many as a superhero and maybe the adult rating put it out of the reach of a large section of its potential audience. I certainly think this was a factor and whilst the adult nature of the movie kept it faithful to the wonderful comic strip, I do believe that to not take some liberties in order to get a 12 certificate was a dangerous gamble which ultimately cost big bucks for the franchise.

 It is easy given the failure of Dredd to become cynical about the future of movies - if a movie is not family friendly then it has no chance of success in our shallow times where spectacle is more important than the integrity of a project. I actually think there's a lot of truth in that and that the majority of the movies made today can't hold a torch to the classics of decades gone by.

Will we see a sequel? Unless the just released DVD is a mega seller then it doesn't seem likely, which will be a great pity since Dredd is a bloody good movie. And as someone who read the Dredd strip from day one and still pick up the title from time to time, I found it to be a great version of the comic book.

Next time, and I do hope there's a next time,then please leave the 3D behind.

Dredd is available now on DVD/Bluray and if you missed it at the cinema then now is the chance to catch up on this movie that will one day be recognized for the masterpiece that it is. It's an arthouse action flick for the punk generation.

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