He may be the law, but Judge Dredd has been overruled at the box office. Dredd didn't even meet the studio's lowball estimates of $9 million to $10 million in its first weekend in the United States, pulling in an estimated $6.3 million instead. And it hasn't even done well enough in the U.K. and other European countries to compensate.
This is too bad, both because Dredd was a nifty film and because this is the sort of mid-budget action movie that ought to be a slam dunk — Dredd didn't need to make hundreds of millions at the box office to break even, it just needed a decent number of die-hard action movie fans. But this is more ammunition for people who claim that mid-budget movies are dead, further bifurcating the market into low-budget indies and massive blockbusters. (Luckily, another mid-budget action film, End of Watch, had a much better weekend.)
So what went wrong here? A few theories:
1) The marketing. Lionsgate was only on the hook for the cost of prints and marketing for Dredd, so they may not have had the financial incentive to push the film hard enough. And what marketing I saw didn't really convey the "Batman-analogue in a dark future city" concept clearly enough.
2) The remake factor. This film wasn't really a remake of the horrendous Sylvester Stallone Judge Dredd movie, but did audiences know that?
3) Lack of mainstream appeal. This may be proof, once again, that a movie needs to do more than appeal to the Comic Con crowd, to make money. Dredd was a love letter to fans of the comic, but never quite spoke to fans of generic action movies or Nolan's Batman films. (See item #1.)
4) The R rating. The over-the-top violence in Dredd was one of the best parts of the film, but the comic has always seemed to be aimed at the smart 13-year-old. You could easily imagine a PG-13 Judge Dredd movie that would convey the violence and lunacy without quite so much overt gore — and that would have made more money as a result.
In any case, this means there will probably never be another Judge Dredd movie. (Cancel your dreams for a CG version of Walter the Wobot.) And it's another nail in the coffin of the off-beat mid-budget action film.