Pitch Black (film)

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Pitch Black
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 USA Films
Release date
  • 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 $53.2 million[2]

Pitch Black (titled The Chronicles of Riddick: Pitch Black on its DVD re-release) is a 2000 science fiction action 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 US$23 million. Despite mixed reviews from critics, it was a sleeper hit, grossing over US$53 million 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. A third film simply entitled Riddick was released in 2013, with Diesel and Twohy reuniting again.

Plot summary[edit]

In the distant future, the transport ship Hunter-Gratzner passes a desert planet with its crew and passengers in cryostasis. The passengers consist of nomadic settlers who are relocating to other planets, a Muslim priest who goes by the title "Imam", accompanied by young pilgrims traveling to New Mecca, a boy named Jack, a pair of prospectors named Shazza and Zeke, a merchant named Paris, and a law enforcement officer, William J. Johns, who is transporting a notorious criminal, Richard B. Riddick. Riddick has surgically-modified eyes that allow him to see in the dark.

Debris from a comet tail rupture the hull, killing several passengers including the captain. The surviving crew members, docking pilot Carolyn Fry and co-pilot Greg Owens, attempt to land the ship on the nearby planet. As the ship falls apart, Fry is forced to jettison sections of the ship. Fry attempts to dump the passenger section of the ship to reduce their weight, but Owens prevents her. During the crash landing, several passenger compartments are destroyed and Owens sustains fatal injuries.

The group explore their surroundings. Riddick escapes and Johns warns everyone that he might kill them all. They notice that the three suns surrounding the planet keep it in perpetual daylight. Zeke goes missing and while searching for him, Fry escapes from photosensitive aggressive underground creatures. They find an abandoned geological research settlement, with a dropship with drained batteries. Inside the settlement, one of the young pilgrims is killed by the creatures. An orrery shows that an eclipse is imminent and that the creatures will be free to hunt above ground. Riddick rejoins the group and they return to the crash site to retrieve the power cells to power the dropship. Riddick reveals that Johns is not actually a law officer, but a bounty hunter who is attempting to collect the bounty on Riddick.

The group reaches the wreckage, but the eclipse begins before they can return to the settlement. The creatures pour out of the ground and kill Shazza and another child. The group salvages any light source that they can in their attempt to return to the dropship with the power cells. Riddick agrees to lead them. After Paris is killed and accidentally cuts their light source power, crossing their own tracks, Riddick reveals that Jack is actually a girl and that the scent of her menstrual blood is attracting the most attention from the creatures. Johns suggests to Riddick that he kill Jack and use her corpse as bait to keep the creatures off the rest of the group. Riddick instead wounds Johns and leaves him to be killed by the creatures, providing a distraction. Making flares, they move on.

Fry, Jack, Riddick and Imam make it to a cave near the ship after everyone else is killed and rainfall puts out their flares. Riddick seals them in the cave and takes the power cells. 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 Imam and Jack, but instead he offers to take her with him. Riddick has a change of heart and they retrieve Imam and Jack and take them to the ship, but Riddick is separated from the group and is wounded by the predators. Fry returns to help Riddick but she is killed after finding him. Riddick makes it to the ship and waits until the last moment before engaging the engines to incinerate as many creatures as possible. In orbit, Riddick tells Jack to tell anyone they meet that Riddick died on the planet below, and they depart for New Mecca.


  • Vin Diesel as Richard B. Riddick. Furyan. 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 surgically altered eyes that allow him to see in the dark but need protection from daylight.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 a 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 Kyra.
  • 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[edit]

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][4]


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 positive 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.[5]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Winner/Nominee Result[6]
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[edit]

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.[7]


External links[edit]