In the distant future, the ship Hunter-Gratzner is transporting passengers in cryostasis. Among those, a Muslim preacher who goes by the title "Imam" accompanied by three 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, Johns, escorting the notorious criminal Richard B. Riddick. Riddick has surgically-modified eyes that allow him to see in the dark but are highly sensitive to light.
Debris from a comet tail ruptures the ship's hull, killing the captain and sending the ship off course. The surviving crew members attempt to land the ship on a nearby planet. As the ship falls apart, docking pilot Carolyn Fry attempts to dump the passenger section to reduce their weight, but co-pilot Owens prevents her. During the crash landing, several passenger compartments are destroyed and Owens sustains fatal injuries.
The group explores their surroundings, noticing that the three suns surrounding the planet keep it in perpetual daylight. They find an abandoned geological research settlement, with a water well and a dropship with drained batteries. Zeke is killed but his body is missing, and Riddick is immediately suspected. While searching for Zeke's body, Fry barely escapes from photosensitive aggressive underground creatures. Johns offers Riddick a deal, if he helps them escape the planet, he'll go free.
The group takes a power cell to the dropship. They realize the geologists must have been all killed by the creatures. One of the young pilgrims is ambushed and eaten inside one of the buildings. An orrery shows that an eclipse is imminent so the creatures will be free to hunt above ground. Johns informs the others that Riddick is able to pilot the dropship and Riddick reveals that Johns is actually a bounty hunter and a morphine addict.
They return to the crash site on a solar-powered sand truck to retrieve more power cells for the dropship, but the eclipse begins before they can get back. Flying predators pour out of the ground and devour first Shazza then another pilgrim. The group salvages any light source they can find in an attempt to scare away the creatures and return to the dropship on foot. Riddick agrees to lead them in the dark thanks to his special sight. After Paris is also killed, Riddick reveals that Jack is actually female and the scent of her menstrual blood is attracting the creatures. Johns suggests to Riddick to use Jack as bait to keep the creatures off the rest of the group during the final stretch of their march, but Riddick wounds Johns and leaves him as a distraction instead. The rest of the survivors push on, while Riddick drags the power cells behind him.
After the last Muslim child is killed and rainfall starts putting out their Molotov torches, the group, now down to Riddick, Fry, Jack and Imam, finds shelter inside a cave not far from the settlement. Riddick leaves them there and takes the power cells to the dropship. 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, ready to leave without them. She pleads with him to help her rescue the others, but instead he just offers to take her with him. Eventually, Riddick has a change of heart, and they return for Imam and Jack and take them to the ship, but Riddick is separated from the group and wounded by the predators. Fry goes back to help Riddick but 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. While leaving the planet, Jack asks Riddick what they should tell the authorities about him; he tells her to say that Riddick died on the planet.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
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.
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.
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.
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.