Romantic comedies often get the stigma of being lightweights during
20 years ago, Sylvester Stallone’s big-budget adaptation of Judge Dredd was released with mostly negative critical reviews and a disappointing box office return. With a $90 million budget, it only made a little over $34 million domestically, $113 million total worldwide. Despite all of that, Judge Dredd has carved out its own place in bad movie culture with its bizarre production design and goofy quotable lines like, “I am the law!” On its 20th anniversary, here are 11 things you probably never knew about Judge Dredd.
1. The film went through numerous re-cuts in an attempt to get a PG-13 rating, but due to the film’s release date, they eventually had to accept the R-rating.
2. Schneider worked with Stallone on Demolition Man. Though they only had one scene together, they got along really well, and it likely contributed to Schneider getting hired for the film.
3. While filming the fireball sequence, Stallone was slathered down with flame retardant gel in between every take, but according to an interview with the San Francisco Gate, Rob Schneider only got the gel put on him the one time.
4. The film’s director Danny Cannon had such a bad experience on Judge Dredd that he swore that he would never work with Stallone again. Similarly, Stallone blames the failure of the film on a lack of “communication” or unified vision, calling the final product a “feathered fish.”
5. Costumes for the film were designed by fashion icon Versace, and while the final Judge Dredd costume is ridiculous, some of the rejected designs are just as nutty. Propbay shared some pictures of the costume designs a few years ago, giving a look at what might have been.
6. Writer John Wagner, who created Judge Dredd, doesn’t have a whole lot of positive things to say about the film, saying that it tried too hard to “cover every aspect of the character and his city” and “ended up with not a lot.” He didn’t necessarily criticize Stallone’s performance, but he wishes that Stallone would have kept his face covered, like the original comic book character.
7. Though Stallone has spoken ill about the production process on Judge Dredd, he was immensely optimistic about it in an ITV interview. He told interviewer Caron Keating, “I think it’s gone brilliantly. The technicians, the look, the size, the mass, the workmanship, the craftsmanship, it’s been perfect.”
8. The SUVs and hovercars were designed by and based on Land Rover and Ferrari respectively, but the “Lawmaster” bikes were entirely original creations. The actors were not allowed to ride the full-powered bikes but instead were given moped versions, while only the stuntmen could ride the real thing.
9. Arnold Schwarzenegger was interested in the role of Judge Dredd before Stallone signed on.
10. As part of the marketing for the film, the Judge Dredd video game got a 16-page guide in Sega’s Mean Machines magazine.
11. Director Danny Cannon only directed two feature films before Judge Dredd. The Young American, a crime drama with Harvey Keitel, and Strangers, a crime drama with Michael Cerveris, which explains why it was expected he would be a good fit for Judge Dredd, a drama about crime and punishment.