“Pitch Black” was considered a problem by USA Films.
At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people have forgotten that USA Films even existed, but for a brief period of time, they were a major up-and-comer, an indie with eyes on the mainstream, and they probably reached the pinnacle of their visibility and acclaim when they made “Traffic.” They couldn’t sustain their momentum, though, and eventually, they had to close their doors.
My most noteworthy interaction with them came when I was still at Ain’t It Cool News. Harry Knowles was in LA one week, and USA Films told us that they had a small film they didn’t know what to do with, and they asked if we would want to take a look at it. We drove over to their screening room (which is now the Clarity Screening Room, probably the best place in LA to see a 3D print) and they showed us “Pitch Black,” which we both loved. We ended up inviting the film to play at the first Butt-Numb-A-Thon in the middle of the night. They ended up sending us both the film and, despite the start time of 2:30 AM, Vin Diesel himself, and it turned into one of the first big highlights of that festival.
When “The Chronicles Of Riddick” was released, it tanked in a big way, and it looked like that was probably the end of the road for the character. I really like David Twohy’s style, and I thought that despite some rough patches, there was a lot of the film that worked, and it ended in the greatest possible place to start a sequel. Based on how badly the film did at the box-office, though, I never thought we’d actually see the sequel happen.
It looks like Twohy did the smartest possible thing here by going smaller instead of bigger. The opening gag in the trailer with Riddick grabbing the little alien bird creature thing is proof that Twohy hasn’t changed the character at all, and ultimately, as with any pulp hero, the most important thing is behavior, not the plot. We watch a Riddick film because we want to see Riddick being a slightly amoral badass who will do whatever he has to do to survive.
Twohy appears to have made a monster movie here, and that’s great news. There are not nearly enough pure monster movies these days, and it looks like this one’s going to get good and bloody. And did I mention how great it is that Karl Urban is back for this one in some capacity? Because it is.
“Riddick” opens in theaters September 6, 2013.