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“RIDDICK”: First Fango set report promises hard-R action

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Vin Diesel is back, playing the glowing-eyed killing machine that made him a superstar, in RIDDICK, the third in the series that kicked off with PITCH BLACK and continued with THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK. When FANGORIA visited the RIDDICK set in Montreal last year, Diesel revealed his awe at this third film even being made.

“We’re actually shooting a RIDDICK that’s better than all expectations, better than anything we anticipated, and we’re here nine years after CHRONICLES,” he tells us, “and it’s…surreal.”

RIDDICK, which opens September 6 from Universal, takes place shortly after the events of the second film left off. Riddick is left for dead on a hostile planet after being betrayed by the Necromongers—and on top of being stranded, a legion of bounty hunters are after him. Things get violent. Writer/director David Twohy is also back to helm the movie, and this time they’re going back to basics, reinstating the intensity and horror of the first film after the more spectacle-oriented CHRONICLES. “At its core,” he says, “this movie is a survival story about one man surviving a planet, and his only way to get off it is to call in the mercenaries to get a ride. It is a JEREMIAH JOHNSON-like survival story, but with Riddick at the heart of it.”

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Despite the previous feature boasting some stunning setpieces and production design on a large canvas, CHRONICLES’ budget got out of hand, and many felt it lost touch with the way PITCH BLACK connected with audiences. “We were victims of going the studio route with CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK,” Diesel admits. “You want to spend that kind of money, you want to expand the mythology like that, and you have to reconfigure the way you’re going to produce the movie and make it PG-13. There’s something appropriate and liberating and honest and free about going into a picture like this and being able to make it an R, and not have to comply with an understandable studio mandate of PG-13 filmmaking for the blockbusters in Hollywood.”

Twohy’s take: “CHRONICLES pleased some fans, but not all fans, certainly. It was a very different movie than PITCH BLACK. We recognize that, and that was the aspiration at the time. We possibly suffered from overreach—but you know what? To come up short while reaching too far is not such a bad thing, rather than not to reach at all. That said, we don’t turn our backs here on the mythology we planted in the last movie.”

There seems to be a sense of renewed purpose on the RIDDICK set—and, with the lower budget, a newfound freedom. “We’re shooting an R-rated RIDDICK, and when do you see an R-rated [science fiction] film in theaters these days?” Diesel asks. “I was 13 years old when I saw ALIEN, and there was a market and a purpose for these R movies. Nowadays, they don’t really exist any more. You can’t count on your hands the number of R movies that are getting a lot of play. They’re so few and far between.”

“We’re not pulling any punches this time,” Twohy adds. “You’re sort of forced to do that when you’re making a studio movie for $100 million or more, because there is too much input, too many people trying to turn it into something else or who don’t want to take chances. All that softens your blows, and we don’t want to soften our blows anymore.”

The writer/director has no plans to leave the RIDDICK universe anytime soon, with plans for two more films in the works. “We’ve talked about making the next movie,” he says, “blowing it out a bit, really going for it and making it the battle of Underverse, and just really f**king going crazy with it. It would demand more. This movie would have to be successful, because the next one would demand a greater budget, but there’s a distinct possibility of a number four. The idea is to go from a small movie to a large movie to a small movie, and let the fans decide. We kind of like that duality.”

Stay tuned for more on RIDDICK at this site in the coming days!

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About the author
Kelly Michael Stewart
Along with being a contributing writer to Fangoria, Kelly has also written for Planet Fury and KISS Monster magazine. As a film presenter and speaker, he has been a guest speaker at the Toronto Silent Film Festival and hosted many film events in Toronto including his Fright Nights monthly series. He is the creator and Festival Director for the Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival and a judge for the Toronto International Film and Video Awards.
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