As we drift towards the end of the summer movie season, Vin Diesel and David Twohy’s action flick Riddick is the next big event on the sci-fi cinema calendar. It has taken nine years, and one hell of a lot of detours, to get from 2004’s Chronicles of Riddick to this, the third installment in the franchise that began with Pitch Black all the way back in 2000. But despite the well-publicized production troubles, if things go well, this won’t be the last we see of Riddick on the big screen.
While Pitch Black—which is largely responsible for introducing Diesel and his oversized biceps into the public consciousness—was a nice sized hit on a small-scale budget, the sequel was the polar opposite. The first film has a small cast, relatively few locations, and a constrained scope. Chronicles, on the other hand, tries to introduce a sprawling universe, complete with multiple worlds, different peoples, and in depth histories. The studio poured a massive amount of money into the project, only to see the film tank at the box office, hence the reluctance all across the board to make another movie.
Talking to SFX, Twohy had this to say:
At its core [Riddick] is a survival story about one man, and his only way to get off this planet is to call in the mercenaries for a ride…That said, we don’t turn our backs on the mythology that we planted in the last movie, and we are actually bringing Karl [Urban] back for a few days of filming to advance it and lay the groundwork for movie four. We’re concerned with paying off the loyal fans and think that if somebody doesn’t understand something the solution is to look at the other two movies and get up to speed. It does play in a gratifying way as a standalone movie, but there are threads that we continue to sew that we started in previous movies and will continue in future movies.
So even though Riddick can be watched as a one-off, it’s intended to connect to something larger, both in the past and the future. It is really a testament to Diesel and Twohy’s determination that there is even a movie to see, come September 6. The two had always planned to expand on their world, but had to revise their plan in the wake of financial setbacks.
Always willing to talk about Riddick, as a character and as a franchise, Diesel chimed in with potential directions future films will take:
You’ve got to go to the Underverse…It’s expected, it’s something I firmly believe. You’ll have to go through the Underverse to get to Furya. So, those are the two further stories that are mapped out. The Underverse is a much more costly venture. We went this direction, trying to do an R-rated movie, which is cool and even more interesting because it’s so unexpected. But yes, you will be at the Underverse and you will be at Furya sooner or later.
That’s music to fans ears, especially the R-rated part. That was one thing that totally killed Chronicles, it’s difficult to have a movie about tough-as-nails killing machine that clocks a PG-13 rating. You never really buy into it like you should. You can see some of Riddick’s time with the Necromongers in this motion comic.
Aiming for multiple movies is ambitious, but there’s one big issue that could derail the plans: Diesel is a busy, busy man. He’s got Fast & Furious sequels coming out of his ass; he’s probably going to voice a talking tree in Guardians of the Galaxy, which you can bet will spawn sequels and appearances in other Marvel movies; and he just signed on for another sci-fi property, the post-apocalyptic Soldiers of the Sun, which is envisioned as another franchise. Riddick is definitely Diesel’s passion, but is there enough room on his plate for all of these film families?