With “Riddick,” the three-quel to a series that began with “Pitch Black,” Vin Diesel is looking to repeat the success he had reviving his “Fast & Furious” franchise. (He’s shooting the seventh installment right after “Riddick” is released.) And if this second revival works, it just might open the doors for his long-awaited “Hannibal” film. And maybe he’ll even squeeze in a Marvel movie somewhere.
If this revival takes off, will it feel like a complete vindication for you? Like an “I told you so” to the industry?
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Totally, totally. We’re keeping our fingers crossed, but totally. And it will do what it intended to do, which is to reopen that universe. That’s the real intention. That’s why we were able to go independent, that’s why we didn’t spend $200 million like every other Hollywood production. How anxious and how committed the studio will be to actually do the next one will depend on how it performs.
You were teasing people recently that you might be signing onto a Marvel project.
Have I been teasing? [Laughs] If the world wants to focus on a [Facebook] cover-photo change that happens on a Sunday afternoon for less than an hour while D23 is pumping out all the publicity in the world, that’s fun, I guess. I don’t know if it was so deliberate or if it was just kind of trying to let the social media base in as much as possible without totally disregarding the Marvel policy.
What about your long-planned Hannibal project?
You know, yesterday I was lucky enough to be the recipient of the 2,504th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and even the night before getting the star, I was thinking, “Am I really ready for this star? I haven’t done [Hannibal] yet. Why are they giving me this? Don’t they have to wait until that trilogy comes out? This makes no sense.” But all of these victories for Universal Studios gets me one step closer to traversing the Alps.
You’ve been holding out for this for so long.
It’s embarrassing how long. You know, I’ve been talking about it so long that even five years ago I would have a little anxiety about doing press because I knew everyone was going to say to me, “Where is this ‘Hannibal’ you’ve been promising? Come on, this is bullsh—!” “But I’m doing ‘Fast’ ... ” “I don’t want to hear it!” [Laughs]
Is there any progress in the development?
Very much so. I would suspect that you’ll hear something from Universal shortly. After all, if you’ve been following my social media, for the last four years there’s kind of been unspoken multiple promises, three wishes. The first was the return of Letty [Michelle Rodriguez’s character in “Fast & Furious”] against all odds, the second was the revitalizing of Riddick and that franchise and the third is “Hannibal.” So we’ve got two, and we have to hold fast and be strong and we will complete that promise.
That would be quite the hat trick.
It’s the ultimate hat trick. And I told Universal, “I want to be able to invite my 80-year-old father to the premiere. We can’t wait too long. He has to see this movie.”
You’re certainly reaping the rewards of reviving all these properties.
Right now I’m so booked. For the first time, I can see multiple pictures into the future, which is kind of one of the chief factors with Marvel. As much as our meeting was about them presenting the idea of a new [intellectual property] for their third phase, after Comic-Con and after people really did have a frenzy and did kind of get whisked away with the Marvel conversation, they came up with a concept that wouldn’t call for me to have to shoot for six months but would be a way to service those crossover fans — my fans and Marvel’s fans and where they cross over. It would be a way for them to satisfy this desire for something to happen now.
The history of Riddick
Then not very well known, Diesel played the most prominent of an ensemble cast trapped on a hostile planet. After an accident forces them to land, Diesel’s convict Riddick proves the reluctant hero to the few who survive.
"The Chronicles of Riddick" (2004)
Now a mega-star, Diesel gambled that everyone was clamoring for more Riddick. Released concurrently were the animated short “Dark Fury” and this $120-million space opera, featuring no less than Judi Dench. It did poorly at the box office.
Nine years later, Riddick gets revived, because Diesel is now in popular movies again (i.e., the “Fast & Furious” films). Stripped down, it’s a return in many ways to the first.