This page was created on June 19, 2004
This page was last updated on June 19, 2004

—Review by Kevin Miller
—Review by Mark Stokes
Trailers, Photos
—About this Film
Spiritual Connections

Production Information
Written and directed by David Twohy, The Chronicles of Riddick is produced by SCOTT KROOPF and Vin Diesel, with TED FIELD, GEORGE ZAKK and DAVID WOMARK serving as executive producers.

For The Chronicles of Riddick, which greatly expands upon the scope and vision of Pitch Black, Twohy has created an all-encompassing, mythological universe.

Assisting the filmmaker in bringing these new worlds to life and filling them with action on a grand scale is a first-rate production team that includes director of photography HUGH JOHNSON (G.I. Jane, White Squall), production designer HOLGER GROSS (Stargate, Deep Rising), film editors MARTIN HUNTER (Underworld, Full Metal Jacket) and DENNIS VIRKLER (Oscar® nominee for The Hunt for Red October and The Fugitive), costume designers ELLEN MIROJNICK (Twister, Starship Troopers) and MICHAEL DENNISON (Mona Lisa Smile) and visual effects supervisor PETER CHIANG and composer GRAEME REVELL, both of whom previously worked with Twohy on Pitch Black and Below. About the Production

In 2000, David Twohy’s Pitch Black had audiences and critics alike doing double-takes with a “where-did-that-come-from?” buzz. The modestly budgeted science fiction thriller was a compelling reminder that genre films could have brains to match the brawn…in this specific case, the brawn of Riddick, the film’s fascinating anti-hero, portrayed by Vin Diesel, at that time a new discovery.

“Pitch Black was meant to be a commercial film not unfamiliar in its setting or context,” notes Twohy, “but unexpected in its depth of character. I wanted to play with reversal of expectation, so that the ‘bad guy’ redeems himself. I wanted to play out a good morality play at the heart of a commercial science fiction horror film.”

With Pitch Black, Twohy and Diesel created an anti-hero for our time in Riddick, whom the actor calls “a seemingly nefarious character who ends up being your only hope. Riddick lives within the realm of neutrality. These least likely of heroes sometimes take on a cult status in the science fiction community.”

Riddick is the antithesis of the staunchly upright movie hero. According to Diesel, “Riddick, who has been counted out, given up on, overlooked and misrepresented, winds up being the one you are praying succeeds in saving you and everyone else in the universe.”

Executive producer George Zakk, Vin Diesel’s associate in their company, One Race Films, recalls the groundswell of grass roots approval that developed for the character of Riddick in the wake of the release of Pitch Black. “When we hit the road promoting the film, there were always huge crowds waiting. Riddick was an anti-hero that people just related to. They would say, ‘This guy’s cool. He doesn’t play by the rules. He doesn’t give a damn about anybody or anything.’ But by the end of the film, he’s no longer a ‘bad guy.’ There’s an ambiguity to Riddick that audiences respond to and find intriguing. Riddick is the most unlikely of heroes. He’s an interesting character, because he knows that there’s something special about himself, but he’s reticent to accept the responsibility that may come with that.”

How do you make an anti-hero? “You let him evolve into it,” responds Twohy. “It didn’t hurt that for the first half-hour of Pitch Black, Riddick doesn’t speak, which only heightened his charisma. And when he does speak, he is selective with his words. In Pitch Black, Riddick evolved from a killer to an anti-hero, and he retains that anti-hero status at the beginning of the new movie. The Chronicles of Riddick is more about understanding who he really is, and that he is no small player in the universe. His loner status is over.”

Diesel was also excited to explore previously unexplored aspects of the character. “In Chronicles, you can invest in Riddick’s development, become a part of that. The film takes you, step-by-step, through the process of watching him understand the significance and value of his life. It’s really his evolution, watching an anti-hero re-join the human race.”

“We actually started to think about a second Riddick movie when we were in post-production on Pitch Black,” Twohy recalls, “and I knew the trap that other sequels had fallen into, replaying the same thing over and over again. I said that the key to a sequel is not to do the expected. Don’t go back to the same planet, don’t meet the same creatures and don’t even let it be a creature movie. We actually changed genres from horror to science fiction action-adventure. We wanted a metamorphosis rather than a rerun.”

Pitch Black’s reception and success as a home-video title infused both its creator and star with the hope that they could return to the world of Riddick…but this time, on a larger scale, building a new, mythological, action-adventure world around him, populated by equally fascinating characters. The Chronicles of Riddick would be a story rich in complex characters set in a compelling and seductive, imaginary world, peopled with a planetary array of warring races and competing agendas. Twohy and Diesel’s mandate was to endow Riddick with new challenges, an ensemble setting, huge action set pieces and greater adventures.

From their experiences working together on Pitch Black, Diesel and Twohy knew that together, they created a winning combination of action, fantasy know-how and science fiction smarts. Luckily, Twohy had just finished directing and writing the supernatural thriller Below, and was available to return to the Riddick playing board. And like Diesel, he was also looking “to paint on a bigger canvas” with his screenplay for the continuation of Riddick’s adventures, The Chronicles of Riddick.

“David’s script totally blew everyone away,” recalls producer Scott Kroopf. “We all knew we had something pretty special. I think people were kind of expecting him to do just a bigger version of Pitch Black, but were excited that David went so far beyond that, dreaming up worlds and universes. The Chronicles of Riddick does relate the further adventures of Riddick, but it’s also an exploration of a whole world with extraordinary elements and a stand-alone story.

“Pitch Black fans will certainly see things paid off in the new movie,” continues Kroopf, “but it’s not required that you’ve seen the first film, because the characters have their own introductions.”

Casting The Ensemble
Just as Pitch Black was an ensemble piece in which the character of Riddick functioned as the pivot, Twohy and Diesel sought to continue this tradition by recruiting an international cast of true renown, many of them veterans of classical theatre…and one, an authentic treasure of every medium, delighting herself with an immersion into a zone previously unexplored in her amazing career.

Most importantly for Diesel was to convince Dame Judi Dench to play Aereon. “I’ve wanted to work with Judi Dench forever,” he admits. “She’s always been the immediate response to the question of who’s my favorite actor. It was very important for me to enroll her in this. She added credibility and set the stage to attract other fine actors to the film.”

Twohy comments, “The character of Aereon is mischievous, and we needed somebody to come to it and imbue her with a certain gravitas. The casting of Judi Dench helped to keep a very light-footed character very grounded.”

To attract Dench to the role, Diesel flew to London to watch her perform onstage, and filled her dressing room with flowers. She agreed to read the The Chronicles of Riddick script and was “terribly flattered that somebody of Vin’s age wanted me to be in his picture.” She had, of course, already scored some ‘street credibility’ as James Bond’s boss, M, in the most recent incarnations of that venerable series, but Dench freely admits, “I’ve never done a film like this and never one of this magnificent scale.”

Dame Judi proved, as expected, the lure to catch other big fish. Colm Feore, himself no stranger to classical roles, calls her “a woman who can speak volumes with the merest whisper, an actor of great experience and intelligence, of great talent and instinct. She classes the whole project up quite considerably, so I figured that if she said yes, there must be something to this.”

David Twohy describes Colm Feore as “a truly talented and gifted man, a throwback to stage actors of old whose goal was to service the text rather than aggrandize their career. Colm wants to help you tell your story as best he can. Rather than venture down a lot of side streets that really don’t move things forward, Colm sees the goal and wants to help you get there.”

Feore himself saw the possibilities in Chronicles as soon as it came his way. “I didn’t see it as just a popcorn movie,” he says. “One of the things I admired about David’s script was that he was brave enough to layer in things on the page which seemed quite difficult. There are parallels between the worlds depicted in the film and our own history. Lord Marshal thinks he’s bringing civilization to the vast darkness, with the attitude of ‘if you don’t join us, we will utterly destroy you.’ And in conquering these worlds after our fashion, we have to be able to residually impose upon them the order and infrastructure that will keep it going…while being able to squash rebellion when it arises.”

Like most actors who play villains, Feore had to find a point of empathy with Lord Marshal, leader of the race whose overriding goal is to cleanse the universe of all human life. “I don’t see him as an evil man,” he says matter-of-factly. “He’s a warrior priest. He’s called ‘Lord Marshal,’ but I see him very much like Julius Caesar—a Roman emperor, conquering barbarian lands and bringing under his empire whatever new worlds they come into contact with. In that vein, he looks at Riddick as a man with enormous potential.”

Thandie Newton was cast as the purely evil Dame Vaako. The actress, who tends to play “characters you sympathize with,” loved Dame Vaako’s “unashamed lust for power. It was very different from anything I’ve ever played before, and I really had to fill a regal pair of shoes. It’s not something that comes naturally to me, to have that kind of poise, stature and authority.”

Karl Urban, who portrayed Rohan warrior Eomer in the second and third entries of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, campaigned to convince David Twohy he need not look elsewhere for his Vaako. “I was a fan of Pitch Black,” says Urban, “and when I heard that David Twohy was preparing The Chronicles of Riddick I knew I wanted to be in that film.” Urban confesses that he “begged, borrowed and stole” to get his hands on the guarded Riddick script, and then finagled an audition with Twohy, who was swayed by Urban’s zealous pursuit of the role.

Urban found an unusual and unexpectedly compelling side to Twohy’s script and offers, “One of the things that appealed to me most about Chronicles is that there are no good guys—it’s just different shades of bad. But even the bad guys, you’re going to like.”

Another performer in whom Twohy saw great potential was 21-year-old Alexa Davalos, who makes her feature film debut in The Chronicles of Riddick as Kyra. “The character as written was very tough,” says the director, “and there was concern that she would be completely unsympathetic. Yet, Alexa has such a natural sympathy that she started to lean almost against type. She would give a real heart to the role. A lot of the other actresses I read had plenty of toughness to them, but didn’t show enough of the other side.”

“Alexa came in and read,” says Vin Diesel, “and she was so good. The second I met with her there was no doubt in my mind that she would be someone who could embrace the strength of Kyra, who’s a fighting machine and almost as deadly as Riddick. At the same time, Alexa would remind us of Kyra’s innocence, and I knew she would knock that out of the park as well.”

“She’s a wounded animal,” says Davalos of her on-screen character. “Kyra is strong, she’s a child, she’s a woman, and to be able to play all those aspects is really a gift for an actor.”

Davalos admits that she “always had a secret burning desire to act,” having watched her mother and grandfather onstage and felt “really blessed” when she was cast in the part. She credited Vin Diesel with helping her prepare for Kyra—which is an extension of the role of Jack from Pitch Black—by relating the experiences that Riddick and Jack shared in the earlier film. “Vin’s been wonderful in creating that transition between Jack and Kyra, and helping me not only with the character, but with the physicality as well,” says Davalos.

Also helping to create another bridge between Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick is Keith David, who reprises his role as Imam. David feels very at home in the character, because “here is a man who doesn’t preach doctrine—he lives it—which is, I think, the best way to breathe your religion, whatever it may be.

“Vin Diesel is a man of his word,” also adds David. “He said we were going to do a sequel to Pitch Black and he really wanted me to be in it. Now, if I had a nickel for every time somebody said that to me, I’d be Howard Hughes. But Vin kept his word.”

Another actor from the filmmakers’ pasts was Nick Chinlund, fresh off filming Below with Twohy and now cast as Toombs, the “merc” (mercenary) hot in pursuit of Riddick. In Chinlund’s opinion, Toombs “gets all the best lines. David wrote all of these wonderful, hilarious one-liners for me. It would be a challenge not to let my character get too big and too crazy, because Toombs is already larger than life.”

Diesel sums up by saying, “One of the most rewarding aspects of this film has been to work with such a amazing ensemble cast.”

Inventing Universes
With a significantly larger budget to work with—and a huge canvas in which to free the imaginations of all involved—Twohy began to put together a dream team of conceptual designers such as Matt Codd, Daren Dochterman, James Oxford and Brian Murray to begin sketching the world of The Chronicles of Riddick. Soon thereafter, Twohy secured the considerable talents of production designer Holger Gross, whose previous foray into the world of motion picture science fiction was Roland Emmerich’s well-regarded Stargate. Gross, supervising art director Kevin Ishioka and their huge team had one mandate from Twohy: “If we’ve seen it before, throw it away.”

The artists focused their efforts on defining three key looks for the film: the environments of the Necromongers, which primarily included their command mothership, the Basilica, and the worlds vanquished by their campaign; the planet Crematoria—hellish in its temperature extremes of 700° by day and -300° at night—and its subterranean prison, the Slam; and Planet Helion, home to an advanced, halcyon society that prospers by capturing, storing, trading and distributing light to far-flung worlds. Gross was determined to create physical elements for the film that were not specifically wedded to the future, but could also invoke the past.

Awash in warm tones, the cities of Helion vary in their architectural style to reflect the planet’s multicultural face, and mix historical and modern elements to allude to the planet’s immigrant quality and progressive outlook. The inhabitants of Helion vary in their looks and garments, but all within a palette of earthy spice colors accented with turquoises and azure blues. And, as a reflection of Helion’s main export and the wealth it brings, makeup artist Victoria Down “warmed everyone up, gave them a glow. These are peaceful, happy, wealthy people.”

If Helion is heaven, then the Slam is pure hell. As this is a for-profit prison, situated beneath the surface of an inhospitable planet and run by mobsters, the design team quickly realized that the key to creating the Slam lay in recognizing the prison not as a building imposed upon the landscape, but as a natural space that had been modified—as cheaply as possible—for use as a prison. The result is a 200 foot lava tube crudely partitioned into cells, here and there destroyed by continuous volcanic activity, filled with exposed wiring and massive air vents, covered with a film of volcanic dust and clearly lacking creature comforts, including adequate plumbing.

In stark contrast both to the cheerful world of Helion and the primitiveness of the Slam, the Necromongers are the epitome of evil sophistication…and also the toughest challenge for Holger Gross and his conceptual artists. Deciding upon a look for the Necros—that integrated elements of their military prowess, ideology and lifestyle into a scheme that was visually exciting without succumbing to stereotypes—was not an easy task. After much brainstorming amongst the group, Gross found his answer in the early Baroque architecture of 17th century Central Europe.

Huge, detailed, elegant yet heavy, punctuated with dark metal finishes, Gross calls the Necro world “twisted Baroque, if you will…a cross between fascism and theocracy, very religious and aesthetic in terms of architectural detail, yet at the same time cold and evil, but very powerful. Finally, we developed a style we called ‘Necro- Baroque.’”

Based on elliptic shapes, the adaptation of the Baroque style employed by Gross also created the illusion of constant movement. Everything is curved and non-directional, so that buildings appear to alter as the camera moves. This, of course, created serious construction challenges. “It would not be easy to build,” admits Gross. “There would be many struggles finding the shape, especially for technical pieces like the spacecraft and weaponry. The Necros are living in spaceships, they’re very technologically advanced, so one has to tweak and shift without losing the Necro-Baroque feeling.”

The art department under Gross and Ishioka consisted of seven illustrators, 10 set designers, two art directors and, for the prop department, two more conceptual artists. Models were made of all of the sets, as well as the crafts. “David Twohy was involved with every aspect of design,” relates Ishioka. “He approved everything, and that ensured an overriding, homogenous vision.”

Then, how to move from theoretical to actual…there was the matter of actually building those sets, which all agreed were jaw-dropping in their size and scope. At over 310,000 square feet in total, six Vancouver soundstages at the appropriately named Mammoth Studios (which used to be a Sears warehouse) housed The Chronicles of Riddick sets, just slightly less than the total square footage of all of Universal Studios’ stages combined. A decision was made early on by Twohy to build the sets to full scale (or very close), to create a complete environment in which the actors could play out the action and the drama of the film. “The problem is,” explains Twohy, “if you give an actor only a chair and a table and surround him with green screen, then he wants to stick close to the table and chair. If your actors can see things, touch them, smell them, it changes their performance. In this rich environment, they come up with great, inventive stuff.

“And my camera is more fluid as well,” continues Twohy. “If everything around the actors is visual effects, those visual effects have been locked off for months. Suddenly I have constraints on my shooting style. If the sets are real, then I can always be more improvisational, more dynamic with the camera. We’re kidding ourselves to think that the future of filmmaking is just actors against a green screen.”

“If, in your 360 degree view, is nothing but Chronicles reality,” confirms Vin Diesel, “it makes it so easy to get into character. It’s not like you’re seeing a parking lot or fast food restaurant behind you in a scene when you’re trying to imagine that you’re on some distant planet. Creating a world of this magnitude is extremely exciting.

“It also gives David the luxury of shooting from any angle,” continues Diesel, “and that’s the kind of freedom you need on a film like this. Just coming onto sets like these, you don’t have to second guess where you are. And the sets these guys created are just unbelievable.”

The entire cast shared Diesel’s enthusiasm for the gigantic sets created for them. Says Thandie Newton, “For an actor, it’s fantastic because you’re literally submerged in a fully realized world.”

“It’s very easy,” agrees Colm Feore, “because you could tangibly touch, sit on, feel and smell the world that was invented for the film. No need to pretend. You walk in and you’re forced to inhabit the space. The depth and detail of it all is enormously enriching. My imaginative work began the moment I stepped onto the set.”

“It just took my breath away,” says Dame Judi Dench of the first time she walked onto the Chronicles sets. “On the Bond films, I’m sequestered in a small office set when I play M, and I primarily do all of my work on those small sets. To get to work within such an enormous, stunning world is a gift.”

The interior of the Basilica spacecraft alone, where much of the film takes place, was a phenomenal 240 feet long by 100 feet wide by 40 feet tall (and extended further with the magic of CGI). Cast members were known to get lost after wandering off for a look at the sets, while some crew members took to wearing pedometers to measure how much they walked (with some clocking an average of 10 miles per day). Holger Gross took the easier way around, touring on a bicycle. “You basically get a free workout every day, which is wonderful,” he jokes.

Construction began in January 2003, and continued even after the company began principal photography in early June. By March of that year, according to construction coordinator Jan Kobylka, the film had broken the record—previously held by X-Men 2— of the largest purchase of lumber ever in Vancouver for a film, and would go on to break all other production records in the city.

Executive producer David Womark, who had worked on other huge Universal films such as Jurassic Park III and Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, notes that the work on Chronicles was “three times the size just in terms of construction.” Womark also notes that for the film, not only all of the sets, but also the props, weaponry and costumes had to be manufactured from ground up. “You can’t just go to K-Mart or Home Depot and say ‘Okay, get me a Riddick knife.’” Such were the logistics of shooting that while some sets were being utilized either by the main unit or the huge second unit under director E.J. Forester, others were going up on adjacent soundstages as Riddick’s world continued to expand.

Executive producer Ted Field, whose diverse experience within the entertainment industry has accustomed the filmmaker to the expansive nature of the business, was duly impressed by the worlds visited by Riddick. “Whenever big films are made, there is usually someone commenting on the scale and the scope of the project…and I’ve been on some big films. But I do have to say, these places, these structures, their rich detail, the reality they create in this film—they’re simply amazing.”

The statistics surrounding the creation of the worlds of Chronicles were nothing short of awesome. Construction utilized 1.5 million board feet of lumber; 4,000 gallons of paint; 275 carpenters; 75 painters; and 85 sculptors and mold makers. The film would use the equivalent of 110 generators to power the lighting, and utilized 400 miles of electrical cable. On its largest day, the production would use 42 lamp operators (standard production utilize around 10), not to mention 2,500 light sockets (in the Basilica set alone), 1,000 rolls of colored cloth tape and 30,000 feet of rope.

Holger Gross wasn’t only concerned with the design of the film’s massive sets, but also with the physical objects contained within them, such as the weaponry, technology and gear, including: the array of blades in Riddick’s collection; Necro gravity guns, pickaxes and different blades; the maulsticks used by the guards in Slam; Necro helmets; Merc guns; Helion gas guns; Kyra’s boot blades. Every element was designed by the art department and then converted into three-dimensional reality by property master Tom Tomlinson and his crew.

The sheer amount of action in which their creations were involved took its toll on the props. “We’ve gone through a lot of glue,” laughs Tomlinson. “Because of all of the stunts on both main and second units, things got beaten up pretty badly. We had to keep making more and more and more. It seems as if it’s never enough…but a little bit of glue helped put them back together again.”

Hundreds of pieces of weaponry, many of them intricately carved to fit the sophisticated aesthetic of the Necromongers, were designed and manufactured. And in addition to the sheer volume of weapons, everything had to be coordinated with visual effects and the stunt department to make certain that the elements of function and design were in cross-departmental harmony.

Although many of the sets were built (as much as possible) to full scale, much of the movie still needed to be enlarged or enhanced even further, a combination producer Scott Kroopf refers to as “the best of both worlds, a mix of old style moviemaking—like Ben-Hur or Cleopatra, where they used to build really huge sets—and computergenerated extensions. This way you have the thrill of shooting on a real set, and then the enormous scope of what contemporary visual effects have to offer. To this end, visual effects supervisor Peter Chiang was enlisted early on to design and implement the many complex shots required for the film.”

Chiang had previously worked with Twohy on both Pitch Black and Below, so the director knew from experience the blend of skills that Chiang brings to the cinematic table. With a background in animation, Chiang is, according to the director, “that rare bird who can take it from concept to post-production. He can conceive it, shoot it and then help the compositor make it more photo-realistic in post-production.”

Notes Chiang, “This project is an exception in terms that it has a fantastic design team, one of the best I’ve ever worked with, which means that right from the get-go we can design the overriding vision of the film and enhance the look of the physical reality that was built. So the concepts are held together more cohesively than as an afterthought in post-production.

“This whole film is visual spectacle,” continues Chiang, “and it’s fantastic to be given the opportunity to create these images. We’ve adopted the philosophy that convention is not an option. The design artists and illustrators are very conscious of the genre and what has been done before, and we’re always going in new, different directions.”

Chiang worked with teams from New Deal Studios, Hammerhead, Rhythm & Hues and Double Negative to get the multitude of effects on-screen, employing more than 400 artists to create complex composites, intricate miniatures and even, when the need arose, new computer code. No software was available that would make the ethereal Aereon, as played by Judi Dench, become translucent when she moved (an evolutionary advantage to the Elementals, her race)…so Chiang’s team simply decided to create it from scratch.

Stunt Work
For a film with as much hard-boiled action as The Chronicles of Riddick, a topnotch stunt team was essential, and stunt coordinator Robert Brown spent months with his team preparing for the film’s many spectacular fight scenes. “This is the toughest one I’ve ever done,” admits Brown. “I didn’t sleep a lot on this show. I had a little recorder next to my bed that I probably picked it up 10 to 15 times a night with ideas of how to accomplish the next day’s work.”

Brown enlisted the help of two military consultants, Ron Blecker and Matt Manner, to train the Necromonger and New Meccan soldiers. Over 300 extras were schooled for battle, which including training in formations, signals, tactics, posture, organization and overall unity.

Luckily for Brown, the producers were realistic about the scope of the challenge. “They pretty much told me to do whatever I needed to do,” notes Brown, “so I pulled in Shawn Kautz, fight coordinator Bradley James Allan and Russ Stark, who is a Cirque de Soleil acrobat. We built a huge gym with flying tracks, trampolines, mini-tramps, air ramps…we had all the toys. And we had a great group of riggers, which is a dream team for a stunt coordinator.”

Brown was also fortunate to be working with actors willing to go the distance. Vin Diesel (who, while working on XXX, had been slapped with the appellation “Air Diesel” by members of the stunt team) only used a double when the situation absolutely demanded it. Fight choreographer Bradley James Allan, who worked with Jackie Chan for seven years, marveled at Diesel’s agility and natural talent. “He’s like a coiled spring,” says Allan, “a fantastic athlete. We didn’t get a lot of time to train with Vin, so we put all these fight sequences together with a stunt team and videotaped them. Vin would watch, add his style of movement, decide what changes he wanted to make, and then on the day of shooting he’d just come in and do it. Just amazing.”

Alexa Davalos had never done any stunts on film before, but plunged into her task with fearless abandon. “She jumped into shape in about two weeks,” notes Bob Brown. “Then we put her on the cables and taught her how to flip around. Bradley then taught Alexa her first fight scenes, and she kicked ass, to say the least.”

“Preparing to play Kyra was amazing,” agrees Davalos. “It was a lot of searching within myself, lots of physical training, lots of stunt work, fighting, weapons, especially knife work.”

About The Costumes
The cast was also aided significantly in their character building efforts by the lavish creations of costume designers Ellen Mirojnick and Michael Dennison, who had only 12 weeks to design every single item for their department and then have them manufactured. Despite the obvious challenges, the opportunity to define so many intergalactic races and cultures was an attractive prospect. “It’s a seductive thing for a designers,” admits Mirojnick. “You don’t necessarily get this opportunity all of the time. But truthfully, I didn’t know what I was saying yes to.”

What Mirojnick was saying “yes” to was a production that required 75 people working in the wardrobe departments both in Los Angeles and Vancouver, with separate dying, painting and manufacturing divisions. There were up to 20 people alone charged with dressing the Necromonger soldiers, and a team of 20 “Monger-Meggers” who handstitched the Necro uniforms. It took a whole day to sew the armor on Lord Marshal’s suit, and took over two months to make just one set of his gloves. Eight thousand yards of fabric were utilized to create the Necro soldiers’ undersuits, with 600 complete costumes manufactured for the film. Some of these teams worked 24 hours a day to create the unique styles of the film.

The simplest challenge for Mirojnick and Dennison, curiously enough, was Riddick’s costume. As he wears the same threads throughout much of the movie, it simply required more than 60 t-shirts, 25 pairs of boots (with different designs for various terrain and stunts) and 40 pair of pants. “Ellen Mirojnick thinks like a filmmaker,” notes Diesel, “so she is extremely invested in not only everyone’s appearance, but how the appearance of one character will juxtapose with the appearance of another character in the same environment. We were so lucky to have both Ellen and Michael creating the look of our characters.”

In addition to the time restraints, Mirojnick and Dennison were governed by the same motto that applied to the production design team: David Twohy did not want to see anything that had been done before. Mirojnick and Dennison found unexpected inspiration in the works of legendary sculptor and fashion illustrator Erte, one of the originators of the Art Deco style…particularly his bronze statues. Explains Mirojnick, “The statues represent how through the use of fire, which is painful, one creates a beautiful, very complete and decorated form and shape.” Mirojnick married this concept to a scene in the script in which Dame Vaako burns away her flesh so that it becomes her makeup, “where the mineral content of the skin is celebrated and burned through to create a form.”

Mirojnick adapted this idea of blistered, metallic skin and created “Mockadile,” a pebbled, scaly fabric created through a complicated silk-screening process. Mockadile formed the basis of most of the costume designs for the film, whether kept simple when worn under armor or fashioned into exquisite gowns for Dame Vaako.

Mirojnick, Dennison, costume supervisor James Tyson (veteran of such films as Master and Commander, Batman Forever and Predator) and their team next tackled the formidable task of creating the look of the armor. For this, they found inspiration in the creations of Filippo Negroli (an Italian Renaissance armor designer), modified to reflect the stealth and post-modern technology of the Necromongers. Fabricated from various polyurethanes to make it easier to replicate and lighter to wear, the armor was also versatile enough in its design so that it could be modified further depending upon the wearer (the officer’s rank) and the purpose (appearing in a close-up or utilized in a stunt). Another highlight of the costuming was the dazzling gown of Aereon. Made entirely of Swarovski crystals, Aereon’s dress makes her seem to float across the screen, the very essence of light and air. To complement the airy elegance of her gown, Dench’s hair and makeup were kept simple—as key makeup designer Victoria Down points out, with Judi Dench the audience wants “to see that face and hear that voice. So it was a change of hair to make her timeless, it was a gown that made her timeless, and it was makeup that simply made her glow. Dame Judi did the rest.” End of an Epic

After 130 combined days of main and second unit filming and living and working together for months on end, the time finally came for Chronicles’ cast and crew to take stock in what they had accomplished and what, hopefully, audiences could look forward to.

Offers Linus Roache, “It’s a massive project, and you really get a sense of the breadth of the vision, and also the amount of work and skill that goes into pulling this off. There’s a lot of love in the details. That’s something you can’t fake.”

“I can’t predict what people will feel or want,” says Thandie Newton, “but just for me personally, what surprised me about this film is that it has everything you would expect from a genre film—great action, superb effects—but there’s also a real depth and complexity. I believe in the characters, their needs, their wants and their passions. And the other thing which really came as a surprise to me in this kind of dark world is how much potential there is for humor and enjoyment.”

Praised by cast and crew alike, Vin Diesel’s complete devotion and dedication to the project was inspiring. “Vin is an amazing guy,” enthuses Karl Urban. “When I got to town we had dinner, and he talked about nothing but the movie for five hours. His focus is incredible, and he’s not one of these big stars who is solely concerned with how his character was being portrayed. Vin wants every character in this to shine. He wants the relationships to be as integrated as they can possibly be. He wants this film to stand up to repeat screenings. The Chronicles of Riddick is David Twohy’s film and Vin Diesel’s dream.”

“Vin is one of the most misunderstood people I know,” says executive producer George Zakk, who has known the actor since his starvation days as a struggling young New Yorker. “He has this great strength and presence, which is what we see, but deep down he’s also a very caring person. He’s like Riddick in that he doesn’t always like to show it.”

Diesel himself credits others for teaching him the value of ensemble acting. “When I did Saving Private Ryan, I learned first-hand how you enroll actors that might not have big roles. I didn’t…I died 30 minutes into the movie. But both Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks made me feel like I was an equal participant, that I had an obligation to do everything in my power to make the movie as good as possible, even with my small role.”

This sense of camaraderie was constantly evident in the working relationship with Diesel and David Twohy. The actor was often quoted as likening Twohy to his twin brother, so obvious was the director and actor’s “almost telepathic understanding” and support for each other. Says Diesel, “The great thing about David is that I know in my heart he is rooting for me, and he knows in his heart that I’m rooting for him. We don’t let each other off at any level, and we’re always pushing each other to be the best that we can be.”

Ultimately, as Diesel himself admitted, he was a big kid in the world’s coolest (and possibly most expansive) playground. “Vin had such a good time making Riddick,” says producer Scott Kroopf, “and he threw himself into it and was involved all the way through the creative process. I can’t underestimate what he has added in terms of creating this story, and just pushing everyone for a general level of excellence and to dream big. He has this kind of infectious quality where he really gets everyone to believe that yeah, we can pull off a movie where we create different worlds from scratch. David and he make a great team.”

Universal Pictures Presents A Radar Pictures / One Race Films Production of A David Twohy Film: Vin Diesel in The Chronicles of Riddick, starring Thandie Newton, Karl Urban, Colm Feore, Linus Roach, Keith David, Yorick van Wageningen, Alexa Davalos, Nick Chinlund and Judi Dench. The music is by Graeme Revell. The coexecutive producer is Tom Engelman. The visual effects supervisor is Peter Chiang. The costume designers are Ellen Mirojnick and Michael Dennison. The editors are Martin Hunter and Dennis Virkler, A.C.E.; the production designer, Holger Gross; and the director of photography, Hugh Johnson. The executive producers are Ted Field, George Zakk and David Womark. It is based on characters created by Jim & Ken Wheat. The Chronicles of Riddick is produced by Scott Kroopf and Vin Diesel. The film is written and directed by David Twohy.

About Vivendi Universal Games
Home gamers now have the chance to experience a fantastical, futuristic world from the point-of-view of the most wanted man in the universe with the launch of Vivendi Universal Games’ (in association with Tigon Studios) new videogame, The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay, available on the Xbox™ video game system from Microsoft in June, 2004. Set prior to the events of both Universal Pictures’ The Chronicles of Riddick and the 2000 cult classic Pitch Black, the game tells the story of Riddick’s dramatic escape from the previously inescapable triple-max security slam Butcher Bay, home to the most violent prisoners in the galaxy. It provides an exciting new chapter in the story of one of the most enigmatic and compelling anti-heroes in motion pictures, offering gamers an intense experience integral to understanding the evergrowing mythology of the Riddick universe.

The Chronicles Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay features an original storyline that casts light on the evolution of the character of Riddick, revealing secrets about his past, as well as his epic destiny to come. The game deftly blends action and stealth elements, as players navigate the anti-hero through the harsh environments of the slam— dank tunnels, dimly lit corridors and other hazardous areas filled with guards, savage inmates and deadly creatures that prowl the darkness. Escape From Butcher Bay utilizes groundbreaking 3D technology and a revolutionary game design that fuses frenetic FPS action, stealth and brutal hand-to-hand combat. Developed by Starbreeze Studios and published by Vivendi Universal Games in association with Vin Diesel’s Tigon Studios, the game has been rated “M” by the ESRB.

In the game, Richard B. Riddick is an intergalactic convict who, at the game’s start, finds himself captured by mercenaries and locked down in the toughest prison in the galaxy. As this least likely of heroes, players must draw on their character’s brains and brutality and attempt the unthinkable—escape from Butcher Bay. Played from a primarily first-person perspective (with special third-person actions), players will have to make maximum use of their environments to achieve their escape, including using shadows, subterfuge and distractions to avoid patrols. Moving and attacking in darkness is particularly effective for Riddick as his haunting “eye shine” gives him the ability to see without ambient light. However, stealth won’t serve every situation and players will be able to take the action up-close and personal. As Riddick, players have the ability to to sneak up behind enemies for surprise attacks or fight face-to-face using fists, elbows and grapples. Additionally, players will be able to capture weapons such as shanks, shotguns, or assault rifles and use these to cut a path through any impediments to ultimately gain their freedom.

Riddick is licensed by Universal Studios Consumer Products Group (USCPG), responsible for global licensing and retail strategies as well as building brand recognition of the extensive catalogue of NBC Universal properties.

USCPG is a unit of NBC Universal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production and marketing of entertainment, news and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates the No. 1 television network, the fastest-growing Spanish-language network, a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80%-owned by General Electric, with 20% controlled by Vivendi Universal.

Founded by Vin Diesel in 2002, Tigon Studios (www.tigonstudios.com) is a game production company that strives to break new ground in interactive entertainment by combining key film components with unique game play, cutting edge technology and high production values. Tigon Studios will develop original games as well as be actively involved in the development process of video games based on motion pictures featuring Vin Diesel as the lead actor.

Headquartered in Los Angeles, Vivendi Universal Games (www.vugames.com) is a global leader in multi-platform interactive entertainment. The company develops, publishes and distributes interactive products across all major platforms including PCs, video game consoles and the Internet. Vivendi Universal Games’ portfolio of development studios and publishing labels includes Blizzard Entertainment, Coktel, Fox Interactive, Knowledge Adventure, Massive Entertainment and Sierra Entertainment. Additionally, Vivendi Universal Games co-publishes and/or distributes titles for a number of strategic partners, including Interplay, inXile entertainment, Majesco and Mythic Entertainment, among others.

About Universal Studios Home Video’s The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury Based on a story by writer/director David Twohy, The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury is an all-new DVD adventure from acclaimed animator Peter Chung (The Animatrix “Matriculated”; MTV’s Aeon Flux). Bridging the stories of Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick, Dark Fury features the voice and likeness of Vin Diesel as Riddick, the fugitive anti-hero. Delivering edgy, sci-fi adventure and an array of Riddick-inspired bonus materials, Dark Fury provides an all-new vision of the Riddick universe and features voice talent from both Pitch Black and Chronicles, including Diesel, Keith David, Nick Chinlund and Rhiana Griffith. The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury DVD is presented by Universal Home Entertainment Productions and premieres exclusively on DVD June 15, 2004.

When Riddick is captured by bounty hunters, he must battle soldiers of fortune and vicious creatures in the lethal slaughter cells of a massive starship. Riddick’s night vision and ruthless combat skills are all that stand between him and a fate literally worse than death in this sci-fi thrill-ride.

The DVD is packed with bonus features designed to extend the Riddick experience, including: a behind-the-scenes look into the creative process behind The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury; a revealing interview with director Peter Chung, who provides insight into the making of the DVD as well as the art of animation; “Into the Light,” with Diesel and Twohy, providing an in-depth look at the characters from The Chronicles of Riddick; and “Animatic to Animation,” featuring moving storyboards that reveal how thrilling scenes from the DVD were taken from concept to final animation. Known for his futuristic animation style and sensory stimulating material, renowned animator Peter Chung serves as director of The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury. Best known for directing and designing “Matriculated” from the best selling Animatrix DVD, as well as the groundbreaking MTV hit, Aeon Flux, Chung’s distinctive and sophisticated style has won him fans and critical attention worldwide. Adding to the production value of The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury, renowned DJ Jason Bentley, along with acclaimed music house, Machinehead, create original music for the feature. Featuring a unique and complex blend of electronica, the soundtrack augments the overall action and excitement of the Riddick-inspired adventure.

Universal Studios Home Video is a unit of Universal Pictures, a division of Universal Studios (www.universalstudios.com). Universal Studios is a part of NBC Universal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production and marketing of entertainment, news and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates the No. 1 television network, the fastest-growing Spanish-language network, a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80%-owned by General Electric, with 20% controlled by Vivendi Universal.

—Review by Kevin Miller
—Review by Mark Stokes
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