Normally, an actor would like to be paid handsomely for a small cameo role in a film, but not Vin Diesel. Instead of receiving a check, the actor received something that was closer to his heart and much more valuable: the rights to his character Riddick. Diesel talked about the trade during the Riddick film premiere in L.A.
In 2006, when Universal was looking to give the Fast & Furious franchise a recharged, they wanted to bring back the face of the franchise to ensure that fans would return for more – four more if you’re keeping count. So when the studio asked Diesel to appear in a cameo role in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift; the actor agreed, but instead of being given a check, the actor acquired the rights to Riddick.
First seen in a supporting role as Private Adrian Caparzo in Steven Spielberg’s 1998 Saving Private Ryan, Diesel’s breakout role would soon come in the form of anti-hero, Richard B. Riddick, in 2000’s low-budget sci-fi survival flick, Pitch Black. Films like XXX, and Boiler Room came rolling in. But after the 2004 sequel The Chronicles of Riddick bombed at the box office, it seemed like the Riddick franchise was doomed to live on through its direct-to-dvd animated sequels.
Despite the flop, the sequel wasn’t a massive failure. So when Diesel acquired the rights, he along with director David Twohy, gave the film a semi-reboot by starting a new “back to basics” plot instead of continuing Riddick’s story after the events of the last film.
According to THR, Riddick was one of the hottest titles at the 2010 at Berlin’s European Film Market. But funding eventually dried up, and according to Twohy, they were “basically kicked out” of Montreal where they were filming, until Diesel received the necessary financial backing to keep the project afloat. In the end, the film ended up costing $35-$40 million, a modest price for a sci-fi action thriller, which ironically will be distributed by Universal.
Riddick opens in theaters September 6.