We might be afraid of the dark, but we're not afraid of another Riddick sequel, even if his last outing left a lot to be desired.
The first chapter in the Riddick franchise, Pitch Black (2000), was born from a story by Ken and Jim Wheat, and further developed by writer-director David Twohy, who had already danced with science fiction in Timescape (1992) and The Arrival (1996). Vin Diesel was about to become a renowned Hollywood star, and the movie’s premise was an easy sell, yet critics and audiences didn’t quite connect with it at first. However, the rental market and T.V. broadcasts gradually turned it into a modern cult classic.
In fact, it only took four years for a sequel to happen because Twohy and Diesel were really committed to turning Richard B. Riddick's dark brand of sci-fi adventures into a saga (the success of The Fast and the Furious in 2001 definitely helped). The weird thing about The Chronicles of Riddick – a title which also became the name of the entire series – is that it introduced space fantasy elements and went for a grander space opera angle versus Pitch Black’s restrained sci-fi horror.
The Chronicles of Riddick flopped despite a huge marketing push and the release of a shockingly good video game tie-in prequel Escape from Butcher Bay. You might also remember Dark Fury, an anime short that bridged the events of Pitch Black and the sequel. Despite all those efforts, the big mainstream bang didn’t happen, but Riddick wouldn’t die out that easily…
2009 brought us Assault on Dark Athena, a full-blown sequel to Escape from Butcher Bay which also included a complete remaster of the first game. It was yet another reminder that Twohy and Diesel’s little, weird sci-fi universe was still around. In 2013, Riddick, a third movie in the series, hit theaters and finally found enough success – mostly thanks to a really tight production budget – to warrant further adventures.
Almost one decade later, the fourth chapter hasn’t taken off yet, mostly because of Diesel’s other big-screen commitments, but we’re going to Furya sooner or later, and we think now might just be the perfect time for Riddick to return.
What we know so far about Riddick 4
The ending of 2013’s Riddick already teased the next step in the titular character’s journey, which may also be his last big-screen adventure: returning to his mysterious homeworld of Furya. You might remember that Furyans were all but extinct during the events of the Riddick movies. As the story progressed, we got more information about Riddick’s past and his origins. It turns out Furyans, a distinct deviation of humans “who developed impressive physical abilities,” were one of the four elder races in the known universe.
The nefarious Necromongers, led by Commander Zhylaw (who later became the Lord Marshal seen in The Chronicles of Riddick), launched a genocidal assault on Furya that was kickstarted when the commander’s fate was divulged to him by an Elemental: he would be killed by a young male Furyan. Those events ironically led to Riddick killing him and sitting on the throne of the Necromongers against his wishes. Self-fulfilling prophecy 101 for Zhylaw.
The third movie took Riddick away from his complicated position as leader of the Necromongers and put him in a “return to basics” sci-fi horror adventure closer to what we saw in Pitch Black. Still, it appears he’s not done with his homeworld nor the Necromongers yet. The little details we’ve received over the years teased the presence of a new threat to what remains of Furya plus an exploration of the Underverse, a constellation of dark stars considered by the Necromonger Empire to be a “promised land” of sorts.
On September 25, 2021, Vin Diesel shared on Instagram a picture of himself in 2013’s Riddick and teased that an “incredible meeting” had happened. Buzz about the fourth movie in the series never died down, but this was the first official confirmation in years that Riddick: Furya (tentative title) was still on the cards.
February 10, 2023 reignited the spark for good with the announcement (via Deadline) of the fourquel finally moving forward. David Twohy will once again serve as the writer and director of the movie, with Diesel starring and producing under his One Race Films banner alongside Samantha Vincent.
The current synopsis for the movie reads as follows:
“In the new film, Riddick finally returns to his homeworld, a place he barely remembers and one he fears might be left in ruins by the Necromongers. But there he finds other Furyans fighting for their existence against a new enemy. And some of these Furyans are more like Riddick than he could have ever imagined.”
Riddick: Furya will most likely be Diesel’s next project after he’s shot the eleventh (and final) main saga Fast & Furious installment.
Why it’s the perfect time for Riddick to return
Following the long reign of massive big-screen franchises full of sci-fi elements – such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars – for years, there’s been a growing demand for big and medium-budget alternatives that can do what the heavyweights can’t. Of course, Star Trek has been back in the movie and TV business since the 2009 reboot, but that’s yet another renowned franchise mostly running on nostalgia and renewed iconography that’s also become gigantic with the rise of streaming.
While Riddick isn’t a big name in the realm of sci-fi universes, its cult following has grown over the years enough to warrant further exploration across several forms of media. With the “grand spectacle” piece of the sci-fi cake currently overcrowded (though we still think Stargate could fit in there), the sensible direction with Riddick 4 is doubling down on the dark and gritty approach to universe-building and action.
While there have been some attempts at doing exactly that on the small screen, nothing has really stuck with audiences, and medium-budget sci-fi romps are always either dead-on-arrival or not good enough. If Vin Diesel and everyone involved play their cards right, Riddick might carry enough noise and momentum to break through the cracks of the massive “big franchise wall” currently built around Hollywood studios.
The post-pandemic theatrical landscape, while still dominated by huge franchises, has evolved quite a bit. And looking at the 2023 box office numbers in North America so far, it appears the growing demand for alternative big-screen spectacles across 2021 and 2022 wasn’t a short flux. Audiences are looking more and more like those of the early 2000s, exactly when Riddick became a thing, with the difference being that now it’ll carry some I.P. weight and renown.
By taking a quick look around, we can also see that sci-fi and fantasy fanatics have grown to love morally gray and tormented characters in recent years. There’s still room for shining beacons of hope, but anti-heroes are cool again. Even if we step out of such genres, we can find modern action icons such as John Wick being the current book definition of “cool and badass.”
With Vin Diesel’s Richard B. Riddick pretty much being John Wick in space, it seems like the odds are in their favor with the long-anticipated fourquel. If the script and David Twohy’s direction are up to par, the return of the cold Furyan might be more than just a farewell.
If you’re in the mood for some sci-fi scares while you wait for Riddick 4, be sure to check out our list of the best space horror movies you can watch right now. Fancy some alien invasion thrills? Our best alien invasion movies list has you covered too. And, if you’re a bit of a gamer as well, don’t skip our best space horror games recommendations.