Happening Today: Fan campaign for “Dredd” sequel hits its high point

Image from the "Make a Dredd Sequel" Facebook page.
Image from the “Make a Dredd Sequel” Facebook page.

The Internet is full of fan campaigns and petitions. Many begin and end on a petition website, but a few are well organized enough to attract thousands of fans and grow across multiple platforms. Make a Dredd Sequel decidedly in the latter category.

The fall 2012 film Dredd, based on the long-running British comic book series Judge Dredd from comics magazine 2000 AD, came and went from theaters fairly quickly, despite positive critical reception and a dedicated fanbase. The size of that fanbase increased with the movie’s release on DVD and Blu-Ray.

Dredd is a science fiction/action film about a dystopian society in which police officers called Judges are given full authority in law enforcement, as judge, jury and executioner. Its plot centers on high-ranking Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) and rookie cop Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) as they try to rid an urban housing block of a crime boss (Lena Headey).

If movies were the focus of my blog, I could write at length about all the reasons Dredd warrants a sequel. Judge Dredd was previously adapted into a 1995 film of the same name starring Sylvester Stallone. It is nonessential viewing, to say the least.

In January, a group of Dredd fans started a petition to make a sequel to the film and created a Facebook page to promote it. The campaign gained endorsements from a number of publications, including Entertainment Weekly.

The key endorsement came in July during this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, when Rebellion (publisher of 2000 AD) officially sponsored the campaign and promoted it in 2000 AD magazines and online.

Image from the "Make a Dredd Sequel" campaign website.
Image from the “Make a Dredd Sequel” campaign website.

The culmination of the campaign is its “Day of Action” on September 18 (today). Rebellion and Make a Dredd Sequel released a statement thanking fans for the signing the petition and encouraging them to buy a copy of the DVD or Blu-Ray, watch the movie on Netflix or rent it on iTunes to bring attention to the campaign by keeping the film on the charts.

The Day of Action coincides with the release of a comic book sequel to the movie.

The campaign site is a fine example of how to promote an online campaign. It supports the statement by providing links to its Facebook page, Amazon (to buy the DVD, Blu-Ray or the official campaign t-shirt), iTunes and the 2000 AD website (to buy the comics).

A person who was unfamiliar with the campaign could find the page and know exactly what was going on with the situation (though they probably have to like the movie to want to get involved).

The site is a reflection of the sound strategy of the fans that created the campaign. Companies rarely get involved with online petitions, but Dredd fans appealed successfully appealed to 2000 AD by showing interest in its product.

Judge Dredd, as seen in the comics. Art by Brian Bolland.
Judge Dredd, as seen in the comics. Art by Brian Bolland.

“Obviously, a lot of people in New York [Comic-Con, which was held around the time of the film’s release] had heard about the movie, but they hadn’t seen it. Now, it’s people who have actually seen the movie and are coming to discover the comic,” Rebellion PR coordinator Michael Molcher told Comic Book Resources. “What’s great about the movie is that it’s exactly the same Judge Dredd you see in the comics, Karl absolutely nailed it. So people are realizing that if they want to see more of the Dredd movie, they can find it in the books.

Even if the campaign does not lead to a Dredd sequel, it still helps Rebellion because it could bolster interest in the comics. Mark Kardwell of Robot 6 said in the long run, the campaign is more likely to increase circulation of the comics than to make the movie sequel a reality.

Obviously, Rebellion benefits because it sells the comics. On top of sales, though, Rebellion has let its fans know it cares what they have to say. For a comics company (or any other company primarily supported by a particular fanbase), quality rapport with fans is quite valuable. If I lived in a country where 2000 AD magazines were sold, I’d remember its involvement in Make a Dredd Sequel when perusing the comic store.

If Make a Dredd Sequel doesn’t get a Dredd sequel made now, perhaps the increased interest in the comics will. It’s quite possible there will never be a Dredd sequel. Even then, the campaign should serve as a blueprint for future fan campaigns to get their beloved works of entertainment to continue.

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