INT: David Twohy

The Arrow interviews David Twohy

David Twohy has been sparring within the genre for a while now. I mean he had a hand in writing WARLOCK, WARLOCK 2 and CRITTERS 2. He also wrote and directed the underrated THE ARRIVAL, the overlooked BELOW and kicked some butt with PITCH BLACK. The crowning jewel in his career in my opinion is his most recent flick; THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK. Mr. Twohy rang me up to talk about the DVD release of the Unrated Riddick (now available in stores) and here's how it went down.

ARROW: Mr Twohy how goes it?

DAVID: Hey John! How’s Berge (JoBlo) doing? Is he still living out of his parent’s garage?

ARROW: Yes and doing great at it at that!

DAVID: And where are you?

ARROW: I live in Montreal Canada, in my own apartment; my parents couldn’t stand me, so they kicked me out, as opposed to Mr. JoBlo.


ARROW: Well I’d like to begin by saying thanks a bunch for the fine film that was The Chronicles of Riddick!

DAVID: Thank you!

ARROW: I loved it! I wanted to ask you, when did you figure out that Riddick’s adventures would continue past Pitch Black?

DAVID: Ask Vin and he’ll give you a different answer than mine. When we filmed Pitch Black, it was a self contained unit for me and I wasn’t thinking of sequels, I was just thinking of surviving the filmmaking experience cause it was a really tough shoot down in Australia. It wasn’t until Post Production did I start thinking of the possibilities. I remember, I wrote a treatment for a bigger sequel story, bigger than you would expect. The Studio at the time said you did pretty well, you did well at the box office but this is a very expensive movie, forget it, and go away.

And four years later as the DVD sales continued to be better and better, the Studios started to notice. Vin was also a bigger star then so when they came to me and asked me “If you would do a sequel what would you do?” I said, I wrote a treatment along time ago, I should take a look at that again and here we are. So, sometimes things work in very strange ways. Based on its theatrical release, Pitch Black didn’t warrant a sequel but four years of DVD sales made it so and we’ll see  if the same thing happens with this one or not. We didn’t do all that well at the Box Office with Riddick, okay but not great, so a lot of eyes are watching this DVD release.

ARROW: Having seen both cuts I must say that the unrated cut was a much more fulfilling experience…

DAVID: It’s the movie that we wrote, it’s the movie that we shot, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that that is the case.

ARROW: Agreed…so I have to ask, whose brilliant idea was it to make this one a PG 13 release?

DAVID: Vin and I pushed for an R Rated film for a long time. As soon as the budget gets to a certain number it becomes almost impossible for the Studio to say “yes” to that. The reality of it is: if you want to make an R Rated film, you can do it, just take 30 million off of your budget. We read the script and didn’t want to lose set pieces or anything like that; we scratched our heads and said “we don’t want to do that.” So Vin and I agreed that we would do the PG 13 cut for the theatrical release while knowing that we’d be able to do a tougher and unrated version for the DVD.

ARROW: Do you think the PG 13 was detrimental, beneficial or didn’t make a difference to Riddick’s box office returns?

DAVID: Tough question…I think if its one or the other, it was probably detrimental. Because, historically we have the R Rating behind us on Pitch Black and to do a PG 13 sequel, people can accuse you of selling out. And also as soon as you’re PG 13 then you are attempting to reach a wider audience and anytime you try to do that, then you sometimes find yourself explaining things to the common lowest denominator, therefore becoming too explanatory, a little too lax as opposed to saying, here’s the core audience, lets make sure we appeal to them first and if we get other people in along the way that’s great. But when you’re PG13 and a big summer movie there is a desire to reach a wider audience and lot of people have different ideas as to how to do that.

ARROW: In terms of Chronicles and the conversations I’ve had about it I always bring up the Robocop analogy where the original Robocop which was Rated R, cleaned house at the box office and the second sequel which was rated PG 13 flopped.

DAVID: Right.

ARROW: My point is if you’re going to make a film for adults, if you water it down to cater to a wider audience, you might lose your core audience in the process. My humble two cents.

DAVID: That’s true; there was also a shift in the political sensibilities of the time about hardcore films and Congress cracking down on them between Pitch Black and Riddick. There was also this whole thing about Congress cracking down on the film industry and a Republican controlled Congress sending the vibe out: “If you don’t oversee yourself we will oversee for you.”  So a lot of Studios in this Post Columbine atmosphere decided to do fewer R Rated pictures and more PG 13 films. So that also factored in. We were kind of up against the climate of the day and the climate of Congress as well.

ARROW: Segueing to better news, the DVD I coming out, it’s unrated and it’s amazing. How conscious were you of the DVD as you were shooting?

DAVID: I was very conscious of it; part of the reason we agreed to do PG 13 was that we could do unrated on DVD. The only hitch was that the Studios didn’t want me shooting two different versions of the movie as we went along. So basically what I restored was stuff we took out for pacing reasons, sometimes not for the better and all the stuff that the MPAA demanded that we take out to get our PG 13. So I was happy to put that back in. There’s a sequence in this Unrated Cut that we call “one step, one kill”.


DAVID: That sequence takes place at the end of the prison escape where the sun is about to break in front of Bako and his men and every step is a new Necro kill for Riddick.

ARROW: Funny you mention that scene where I state that in my DVD review. When I saw that fight in the PG 13 cut it felt off for me but seeing it in the Unrated Cut, it felt complete and flowed so much better, Its actually one of my favorite scenes in the film now.

DAVID: That scene was definitely reduced by the MP double A to meet their requirements. They were really afte5 that sequence. And we didn’t even tell them that we called it “one step, one kill” to them but that’s what we called the scene on set. We worked long and hard to execute that sequence both my first Unit and the second Unit as well. It was great to put it back in.

ARROW: So where does that leave the proposed Riddick sequels?

DAVID: Well, like Pitch Black it will be determined by its market legs. The Box Office of Riddick didn’t warrant another film but neither did Pitch Black’s and here we are talking about, possibly a third film so…

ARROW: Well I’m crossing my fingers for you where I really want to see how this ends!

DAVID: You and me both!

ARROW: I’m on the edge of my seat over here…COME ON!


ARROW: Thanks for your time David.

DAVID: Thanks John!


I'd like to thank David for taking the time to yap it up with me and for the badass flick that was Chronicles of Riddick. One question remains...DID YOU CATCH RIDDICK YET?





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