Way back in March 2012, I visited the Montreal set of “Riddick,” the third live-action film in Vin Diesel and David Twohy’s “Chronicles of Riddick” franchise (and the fourth film overall, counting the animated feature “The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury”).
It was a fun trip, not just because it’s a free trip to Montreal and a chance to chat with some cool filmmakers, but also because I’m a big fan of this particular franchise. I caught “Pitch Black” (the first film in the franchise) right after it was released in 2000, and I’ve been singing its praises for years.
As you’ll read in the interview, the fact that this movie is getting made is pretty amazing, given the poor performance of the last film (2004’s “The Chronicles of Riddick”), the cult status of “Pitch Black,” and the fact that it’s been nine years since the last film. And that fact isn’t lost on Diesel, the star of the franchise and one of the guys pushing this film forward with everything he’s got.
Here’s an excerpt from the group interview we (I visited the set along with a few other outlets) had with Diesel late into the night after a long day of filming:
Q: What does it mean for you to finally be filming this movie?
Vin Diesel: It’s surreal for me to be here after nine years. When we first did Pitch Black it predated The Fast and the Furious, but led into that relationship [with Universal Pictures], and we’re here now because of The Fast and the Furious. You’re sitting on this set because I did a cameo in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. We leveraged that cameo in Tokyo Drift to reboot a franchise that was dying, because when The Fast and the Furious got to that third film it was basically a scrap of metal that nobody wanted.
Q: Did you have to push for the R rating for Riddick? Did the studio want that rating for the film?
Diesel: Oh my God, of course they wouldn’t want that. Nobody’s doing R-rated movies. You can count on your hands the number of R-rated movies getting a lot of play. In going the studio route with The Chronicles of Riddick, the budget went up but the first thing taken out was the R rating. If you want to spend that kind of money and you want to expand the mythology, you have to reconfigure the movie and make it PG. But there’s something appropriate and liberating and honest and free about being able to make it a rated-R picture and not having to comply with an understandable studio mandate of PG filmmaking for Hollywood blockbusters.
You can read the rest of the interview, as well as my report on the set and the scene we watched that evening, over at Fandango.com.
“Riddick” arrives in theaters this September, so keep an eye out for it.