Fans of "Judge Dredd" - the dystopian supercop created by writer Jack Wagner and artist Carlos Ezquerra in the pages of UK's anthology comic "2000 A.D." during the late 70s - have spent the past 16 years telling people, "No, no, seriously, he's a LOT cooler than that Stallone movie would lead you to believe. Really."
Then word came that director Pete Travis ("Vantage Point") was all set to erase the memory of Sly's 1995 debacle with a gritty new take starring "Lord of the Rings" vet Karl Urban in the lead role and "28 Days Later" scribe Alex Garland on script duty. First order of business: Reassuring fans that this Dredd would never, ever remove his helmet, just like his comic counterpart. Not only was Urban - who admitted to be a huge fan of the comic - cool with this, he would claim to "Empire" magazine that it was one of the main reasons he said yes to the part.
So you've got a fan in the lead role, a seasoned genre vet writing the script, and a...well, a director. The way to San Diego Comic Con should have been paved in golden laminated badges, right?
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Word started to perk up yesterday that Travis had been booted from the editing room by the producers over that oh-so-caustic phrase "creative differences." Although principle photography was completed, Travis was reportedly shown the door and the reigns were given to Garland to shape the finished film.
Today, Travis and Garland issued a joint statement which features the press release version of Pee Wee Herman's "I meant to do that."
In short, Travis and Garland claim that there are no creative differences - they are, in fact, practicing an "unorthodox collaboration." Exactly. Because a director calling it a day and giving the keys to the screenwriter just as he's about to dig in and edit the footage he spent a year preparing and shooting is the textbook definition of "unorthodox." We could think of other words that could fit, too.
The complete release:
"During all stages of the filmmaking, 'Dredd' has been a collaboration between a number of dedicated creative parties. From the outset we decided on an unorthodox collaboration to make the film. This situation has been misinterpreted. To set the record straight, Pete was not fired and remains a central part of the collaboration, and Alex is not seeking a co-director credit. We are all extremely proud of the film we have made, and respectfully suggest that it is judged on viewing when its released next year."
So there you have it. Travis is still "involved," but probably not editing. Also? "Dredd" will be coming to a theater near you, but probably won't be any good. Remember when Jerry Bruckheimer locked director Mike Newell out of the editing room on "Prince of Persia" and how well that turned out?
Sorry, Dredd fans.
Here's some salt for that wound: