When Vin Diesel brings his sci-fi anti-hero Riddick back to the big screen for the third time, it will be something of a surprise. The first film in the “Furyan Chronicles,” Pitch Black, was a gritty, low-budget affair. Given that the hero of that film is a murderous space criminal, the film was tagged with an R-rating by the know-it-alls at the MPAA. The sequel, the bloated, over-funded Chronicles of Riddick, however, got a more audience friendly PG-13 rating. That film didn’t play particularly well, and it has been a long road for Diesel and director David Twohy to make the movie they wanted to make. There have been many starts and stops along the way to Riddick.
From all reports, not to mention the footage we’ve seen, Riddick, the third chapter of the trilogy, is more in line with the first film. This includes aesthetic and thematic links, as well as a more violent, graphic nature of the action. One other fact links the first and third films, both proudly bear an R-rating. After all, this is a movie where the protagonist is cold-blooded killer. He’s certainly a cold-blooded killer with a heart of gold, but he’s been responsible for some rather icy murders.
Most movies these days actively seek out a PG-13 rating. With escalating production and marketing budgets, cutting your audience down like this is tantamount to financial suicide. To Vin Diesel, who has been the driving force behind this film, making sure Riddick lived up to its R-rated roots was an important piece of the puzzle. Talking to HitFix, he says, “I’ve been lobbying and leveraging for it for 9-years…in order to make it rated-R.”
One of the big reasons it took them so long to make the movie is that no one with money wanted to invest in a big, hard-R, brutally violent blockbuster. Diesel says, “Oh my God, of course they wouldn’t, nobody’s doing them. You can’t count on your hands a bunch of rated-R movies that are getting a lot of play. They’re so far and few between.” He goes on to note how on Chronicles, as the budget increased, the more and more insistence there was from the studio to tone down the violence to ensure a more inclusive rating.
Some people argue, “Hey, there’s the Dark Knights that are PG but pushing the R envelope,” but it does mean something. It means something in your approach to making a movie. There’s something appropriate and liberating and honest and free about going into a picture like this and being able to make it a rated-R picture and not have to comply with an understandable studio mandate of PG filmmaking for the blockbusters in Hollywood.
These are promising words indeed. I, for one, can’t wait to see Riddick battling giant monsters and kicking the crap out of bounty hunters. That’s the general premise of the movie. Riddick also stars Karl Urban, Katee Sackhoff, Bokeem Woodbine, Dave Bautista, Jordi Molla, and more, and opens in theaters September 6.