|Riddick (Vin Diesel) on Necromonger Throne, Source: Chronicles of Riddick|
In 2000, Diesel starred as a ruthless anti-hero, Riddick, in the sci-fi horror movie, Pitch Black. In 2004, Vin Diesel and director David Twohy teamed up again to make Chronicles of Riddick. Chronicles took some of the characters from Pitch Black and turned it into a sprawling epic sci-fi universe with Riddick battling death-worshipping warriors called the Necromongers. In 2013, the duo came out with Riddick, the long-awaited sequel to Chronicles of Riddick. But the movie (which critics found a strange blend of Pitch Black and Chronicles) wasn't what they originally intended. They weren't able to create the sequel they wanted, and the story behind it tells their boldness and vision.
The story goes all the way back to before Chronicles went into production. In a press conference with Diesel, he explained:
You have to understand, when we made Chronicles of Riddick, this is how confident we were […] when David and I delivered the script to the studio, we delivered three leather binders. One said "Core One," the second said "Core Two," and the third said "Core Three." Now, all but the first one basically had Xerox paper stuffed in it, right? With like a little treatment on each one. It was a locked leather binder and we only gave the studio keys to the first binder. [laughs] It was a statement saying, "This is a trilogy. Think of Pitch Black as The Hobbit to The Lord of the Rings" […]So what would the two movies have been about? Well, back in interviews for Chronicles, Diesel described it:
[For the next film,] you have to go to the Underverse, you want to go to the Underverse and you'll have to go through the Underverse to get to Furia. So, those are the two stories that are mapped out...the next film, Riddick is going to go to the underverse. Riddick will act with new elementals. Not air elementals [as Judi Dench's character is] but fire and water. It'll come full circle in C3 when he must return to Furia...We knew we could get away with a PG-13 on the first one, but once you go to the Underverse it's rated R, because it's a place where war is the norm and there is constant, constant battling. Then on Chronicles 3 we will see Riddick return to Furia, to deal with the homeland.Twohy confirmed this in an interview for Riddick, when he said:
The next movie in that succession if we were making studio movies would have been I think straight into the Underverse, do kind of an Orpheus Descending myth in the Necromonger Underverse. It would've been a big movie too, but also PG-13 so maybe it’s for the best.So what is the Underverse? The Riddick wiki (yes, there is one) described the Underverse this way:
The Underverse is a constellation of dark, new stars. The Necromongers consider it their promised land; that only the Lord Marshals of the Necromongers are known to have journeyed to.The Purifier in Chronicles of Riddick explained in more detail:
In this verse... Life is antagonistic to the natural state. Here humans, in all their various races, are a spontaneous outbreak. An unguided mistake. Our purpose is to correct that mistake, because there is another verse. A verse where life is welcome, cherished. A ravishing evernew place called Underverse. But the road to that verse crosses over the Threshold.Still kind of vague, but we have an idea of where it would go. Unfortunately, Chronicles did poorly at the box office, grossing only $55 million of its rumored $150 mil budget. After the critical and financial failure, the studio wouldn't agree to a sequel. Diesel was dedicated to making one happen. He did everything from agreeing to make a cameo in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift in exchange for the rights to Riddick, all the way to mortgaging his own house. Yet even all that wasn't enough to let them create another sprawling epic like their imagined Necroverse movie. As a way of trying to breathe life into the franchise, they created a scaled-down, cheaper movie with elements closer to the first movie.
Both Twohy and Diesel have expressed hopes that they can one day return to Riddick and create the original sequels as intended. While I think Chronicles had its flaws, I admire their determination and dedication to this world. Here's hoping they one day can return to their original vision.
Would you have seen Chronicles 2? Do you think the franchise has a future or run its course?
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