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Feature: The Chronicles of Riddick

Bright Eyes

Riddick It may not have set the box office alight, but The Chronicles of Riddick isexpected to go stellar as it hits DVD. Director David Twohy discusses theUnrated Edition, the added violence and his thoughts for the sequels…

David Twohy may be the walking, talking embodiment of the power of DVD. And if he isn’t, then his frequent collaborator, one Vin Diesel, surely is. But in this case it’s Twohy, the writer-director of both 2000’s Pitch Black (the creepy Sci-Fi thriller that put Diesel on the action-star map) and last summer’s high-gloss sequel, The Chronicles of Riddick, who’s espousing on how the DVD revolution truly has changed the business of film-making. Or, at least, the business of Twohy’s film-making, for he readily admits that without the DVD success of Pitch Black, he wouldn’t be talking about Riddick, home cinema, theatrical or otherwise.

“Remember that Pitch Black was a movie that almost didn’t get into theatres but for a few fan boys who saw it earlier and wrote about it online,” says Twohy.

When it did get its big-screen release, the $20 million offering, about a notorious criminal (Diesel) who saves victims of a spaceship crash from the vicious aliens who inhabit the dark planet they’re stranded on, grossed nearly $40 million, a nice return for a low-budget effort. But it was on DVD that the film found its audience and gained the cult status necessary to justify a sequel, made with more money and attention.

“I was very much looking forward to a real studio release,” says Twohy. And he got on with Riddick” along with all of the pressure that comes when you make a movie that costs more than $100 million. But to his credit, Twohy and Diesel, who served as a co-producer this time around, didn’t go the simple follow-up to cash in on the Pitch Black momentum.

“We were more interested in character than we were with critters, and we decided to follow the Riddick character wherever he goes,” says Twohy. “Because at the heart of it, Pitch Black is, I think, an unexpectedly good character film. The characters actually arc, and they change over the course of this science fiction film. And science fiction often doesn’t offer that up. They deal more in icons. So we said, ‘If we are really invested in our characters, we should be able to follow them wherever they go, and that’s the movie.’”

In this case, that meant again making Riddick a reluctant hero, but instead of fighting nasty monsters, he’s taking on a much more formidable enemy – man, in the form of the Necromongers, a vast cult of near-dead folk who roam the universe seeking converts to their ‘religion’. And they aren’t asking nicely like Billy Graham does.

“Their credo is, ‘Submit or die, join us or die’,” says Twohy. It’s a philosophy that indirectly reflects the direction Diesel and Twohy were going toward with their sequel. “We knew very early on that we’d be doing something very different, that some of the Pitch Black fans would go along for the ride and some wouldn’t,” says the director. “But creatively, both Vin and I felt we wanted to expand and try to be different.”

by David Waldon

Get the full interview and more on Riddick in
Ultimate DVD #61

Photo © Universal Pictures
Feature © Visual Imagination 2004. Not for reproduction

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Ultimate DVD #61
Christmas 2004
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