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Pitch Black (film)

Pitch Black
File:Pitch Black poster.JPG
U.S. theatrical poster
Directed by David Twohy
Produced by Tom Engelman
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Jim Wheat
  • Ken Wheat
Music by Graeme Revell
Cinematography David Eggby
Edited by Rick Shaine
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • February 18, 2000 (2000-02-18)
Running time

109 minutes (theatrical cut)

112 minutes (unrated version)[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $23 million[2]
Box office $53.1 million[2]

Pitch Black is a 2000 science fiction horror film co-written and directed by David Twohy. The film stars Vin Diesel, Radha Mitchell, Cole Hauser, and Keith David. Dangerous criminal Richard B. Riddick (Diesel) is being transported to prison in a spacecraft. When the spaceship is damaged by comet debris and makes an emergency crash landing on an empty desert planet, Riddick escapes. However, when predatory alien creatures begin attacking the survivors, Riddick joins forces with the surviving crew and other passengers to develop a plan to escape the planet.

Pitch Black was the final film credit of PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, which merged with Universal Pictures during production. It was shot on a modest budget of $23 million USD. Despite mixed reviews from critics, it was a sleeper hit, grossing over $53 million USD worldwide and developing its own cult following, particularly around the antihero Riddick. A sequel, The Chronicles of Riddick, was released in 2004 by Universal, with Diesel back as the title character and Twohy returning as writer and director. After an animated third film, a fourth live-action film simply entitled Riddick was released in 2013, with Diesel and Twohy reuniting again.

Plot summary

In 2500, the transport ship Hunter-Gratzner passes near a desert planet while on autopilot with its crew and passengers in cryostasis chambers. The passengers mostly consist of nomadic settlers who are relocating to other planets, an Imam, a Muslim preacher, with his followers traveling to New Mecca, a young boy named Jack, an intergalactic merchant named Paris, and a law enforcement officer, William J. Johns, who is transporting a notorious Furyan criminal, Richard B. Riddick, who is chained in a special chamber and is the only one awake while in cryostasis.

While passing through the comet tail, a cometary debris cloud ruptures the hull, killing the captain. The two other members of the crew, including a docking pilot, Carolyn Fry, and her co-pilot Greg Owens, attempt to land the ship on the nearby planet. As the ship starts to rupture and fall apart from meteor damage and the heat of re-entry, Fry is forced to jettison some of the sections of the ship to give them a chance of a safe landing. Fry, in a moment of desperation, tries to dump the passenger section of the ship to reduce their weight, intending to kill the passengers to save herself. Owens, shocked by her sacrifice of morality in exchange for her own survival, locks out the releasing mechanisms to stop Fry from killing the passengers, but dies in the crash landing. Fry joins the surviving passengers. Fry assumes the role of Captain and hides the fact of trying to kill them.

The group gathers up supplies and begins exploring their surroundings. Tension runs high after Riddick escapes and Johns warns everyone that Riddick may kill them all. The group soon notices that the three suns surrounding the planet keep it in perpetual daylight and they begin searching for water. One of the survivors goes missing and while searching for him, Fry accidentally discovers photosensitive creatures underground that are swift hunters. The group decides to walk across the desert looking for water and supplies.

They come across an abandoned geological research settlement, with supplies of water and an emergency dropship with drained batteries. Inside the settlement, they discover more creatures and one of the imam's children is killed. The group also discovers a model of the planet's solar system showing that very soon the planet will be eclipsed and the creatures will be free to hunt above ground. Riddick rejoins the group, belying Johns' prediction, and they all agree to go back to the crash site and retrieve the power cells from the downed ship, which will then be used to power the escape ship. Riddick talks to Fry privately and reveals that Johns is not actually a law officer, but a morphine-addicted mercenary and a bounty hunter who is attempting to collect a bounty on Riddick.

The group reaches the wreckage to collect the power cells but the eclipse begins before they can return to the settlement. The creatures begin pouring out of the ground, killing another survivor. The rest of the group hole up in the wreckage and work on planning their next move. Inside, the creatures kill another of the children. The group decides to salvage any light source that they can and create a caravan to return to the dropship. Riddick agrees to lead them, thanks to his illegally surgically-modified eyes, called Shiners, that allow him to see in the dark.

After they accidentally cut their light source power en route, and the Imam notices that they have crossed their own tracks, the group stops and Riddick reveals that the creatures hunt by blood and that Jack is bleeding. The others don't understand until Riddick reveals that Jack is actually a female and the scent of her menstrual blood is attracting the creatures to them. Johns pulls Riddick aside and offers him a deal; if Riddick kills Jack and uses her as bait to lure the creatures away, Johns will report that Riddick died in the crash and let him go. Riddick, who actually has a high sense of ethics and morality, and concludes Johns is lying, severely wounds Johns and uses him as the bait, seeing Johns more amoral and opportunistic than himself.

The others make a run for it, and try to make light from flares, but only Fry, Jack, Riddick and Imam make it to a cave near the ship after an unexpected rain puts out their flares. Riddick seals them in the cave with a large stone and takes the power cells to the settlement. Inside the cave, they discover bio-luminescent worms, which they stuff in bottles to use as light. Fry leaves the cave and finds Riddick powering up the ship to leave without them. She pleads with him to help her rescue the imam and Jack, but instead he offers to take her with him.

Ultimately, Riddick has a change of heart and they retrieve the Imam and Jack and take them to the ship but Riddick is separated from the group and is wounded by two of the aliens. As Fry returns to help Riddick, she pulls him back to his feet and helps him walk, telling him that she would be the one who would die for the others, not him. Suddenly, just meters from the skiff, one of the indigenous predators impales her with its tail and rips her away from Riddick, flying off with her into the rainy darkness as Riddick shouts "Not for me!". Riddick then returns to the ship where Jack and Imam await and, in a final stroke of revenge, he delays the departure until the last possible second before engaging the engines at full throttle to incinerate the greatest possible number of the advancing creatures. In orbit, Riddick tells Jack to say to any bounty hunters or other law enforcers that Riddick died somewhere on the planet below, and they depart for New Mecca.


  • Radha Mitchell as Carolyn Fry, a docking pilot for the commercial transport ship Hunter-Gratzner. She has a moment of moral weakness during the emergency landing attempt, intending to sacrifice the ship's passenger section to save herself. A relationship develops between Fry and Johns, until she finds out who he really is.
  • Vin Diesel as Richard B. Riddick. Former mercenary, soldier, and pilot, an infamous criminal and murderer who was captured by Johns and placed in suspended animation along with Johns, who was to bring him to a prison to collect a bounty. He has artificial eyes that allow him to see in the dark.
  • Cole Hauser as William J. Johns. A morphine-addicted bounty hunter and war veteran who is transporting Riddick to high-security prison to collect a large bounty on him. When the ship crashed, he presented himself as an intergalactic police officer and spread the story about Riddick being a serial killer so he could capture him for himself. He is also very immoral person, killing many people and other bounty hunters to capture him.
  • Keith David as Abu 'Imam' al-Walid. A Muslim preacher who was travelling to New Mecca for the annual preaching, and was stranded with others when the ship crashed. He is travelling with three young boys.
  • Lewis Fitz-Gerald as Paris P. Ogilvie. An intergalactic arts dealer selling weaponry and arts from Earth and other planets. He also provided the others with alcohol.
  • Claudia Black as Sharon 'Shazza' Montgomery. A free settler who was travelling across the universe looking for new home.
  • Rhiana Griffith as Jack. A young girl who was travelling on a distant planet for unknown reasons, and she was posing as a boy named Jack to avoid any suspicion. Her real name is Kira.
  • John Moore as John 'Zeke' Ezekiel. A free settler along with Shazza and looking for a home.
  • Simon Burke as Greg Owens, co-pilot. During the emergency landing, Owens stopped Fry from dumping the passenger section of the ship, which would have resulted in their immediate deaths. He dies during the emergency crash landing of the Hunter-Gratzner on the uninhabited desert planet.
  • Les Chantery as Suleiman
  • Sam Sari as Hassan
  • Firass Dirani as Ali
  • Ric Anderson as Total Stranger
  • Vic Wilson as Captain Tom Mitchell
  • Angela Moore as Dead Crew Member


Home media

Pitch Black was released on VHS and DVD on October 10, 2000. It was re-released on DVD in 2004 as The Chronicles of Riddick: Pitch Black. It was released on HD DVD on July 11, 2006, and on Blu-ray on March 31, 2009. The disc contains the theatrical edition and an unrated director's cut edition, containing 2 more minutes of extra material.[3]


Pitch Black opened in 1,832 theaters on 18 February 2000, grossing $11,577,688 over its opening weekend and ranking 4th at the box office. The film has a domestic gross of $39,240,659 and a foreign gross of $13,947,000, giving it a worldwide total of $53,187,659.[2]

On its release, the film received mixed to favourable reviews, and received a 57% rating on the film-critics aggregate Rotten Tomatoes, based on 102 reviews with an average rating of 5.6/10.[4]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Winner/Nominee Result[5]
2000 Saturn Award Best Science Fiction Film Pitch Black Nominated
2001 Australian Cinematographers Society Award Cinematographer of the Year David Eggby Won
Golden Tripod Won
Blockbuster Entertainment Award Favorite Actor - Horror Vin Diesel Nominated
Bram Stoker Award Best Screenplay David Twohy, Jim Wheat and Ken Wheat Nominated
International Horror Guild Award Best Movie Pitch Black Nominated

Related works

The movie's sequel, The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), was also directed by David Twohy. A short animated movie released the same year, The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury (2004), was directed by Peter Chung. Dark Fury bridges the gap between Pitch Black and Chronicles of Riddick.

To tie-in with the sequel, the film was novelized under the name The Chronicles of Riddick: Pitch Black. The novel was written by Frank Lauria.

In 2000, a prequel to Pitch Black was released named Into Pitch Black, which was supposed to be a documentary film. The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, a game for the Xbox and the PC, was also released in 2004 to critical acclaim. A remake of Butcher Bay, including a new campaign, was released for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC on 7 April 2009, under the title The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena.

Riddick, a live-action sequel to The Chronicles of Riddick opened on September 6, 2013, with both David Twohy and Vin Diesel attached. The sequel ties in more closely to the original Pitch Black.[6]


External links