Vin Diesel is making xXx 4 with director D.J. Caruso after finalizing a deal to buy back franchise rights from Revolution Studios. Diesel first played extreme athlete turned government agent Xander Cage in 2002's Rob Cohen-directed action thriller xXx. A sequel, xXx: State of the Union, was then released in 2005.
With Diesel becoming occupied by the Fast and Furious franchise, Xander Cage would disappear from movie screens for over a decade. Some were surprised when Diesel did bring back the character for 2017's xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, directed by D.J. Caruso. The film did well enough that, according to Diesel, Paramount Pictures expressed interest in doing a fourth installment but those plans apparently stalled out.
With Paramount uninterested in continuing xXx, Diesel reportedly has put together a deal to purchase the franchise rights and press on with the series. As reported by THR, Diesel has teamed up with finance company The H Collective to make the deal happen. Now, Diesel says he will move forward with xXx 4, with D.J. Caruso returning to direct. The plan is for production to begin in late 2018. In a statement, H Collective CEO Nic Crawley made it pretty clear that the Chinese market was a big reason why the deal was made:
"During my time at Paramount I was lucky to be involved in the development and distribution of xXx: Return of Xander Cage. The response from the Chinese box office was unprecedented. Bringing the next installment of the xXx franchise to The H Collective complements our diversified slate and mission to produce content for a global audience."
Released in January 2017, The Return of Xander Cage did only modest box office in the U.S., grossing $44 million. However, the film blew up overseas and came in at a total worldwide gross of $301 million. $164 million of that worldwide take came from China alone, placing it above Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, Logan and other huge franchise titles in the Chinese market.
Diesel's other major franchise, Fast and Furious, has also been massively huge in China over the years. But now Diesel's future in that franchise is up in the air, with Universal putting the brakes on the main series of films to focus on the spinoff Hobbs & Shaw starring Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. Indeed, there appears to be bad blood at least on Diesel's end over Universal's move to elevate Johnson to franchise lead. Of course it's hard to blame the studio for that move, given Johnson's increasingly huge box office clout, both in America and overseas.
With Diesel maybe through as the lead of the Fast and Furious movies, perhaps he sees xXx as a secure franchise he can move forward with. Diesel of course also stars as Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy - and will voice the character in Avengers: Infinity War - but that is very much a side gig for the star. In addition to xXx 4, Diesel has also lined up the lead role in Sony's planned Bloodshot movie, based on the Valiant Comics title. Sony reportedly plans an entire Valiant universe, and Diesel presumably would be a huge part of those plans. There's also that other long-dormant Diesel franchise, the Riddick series, but fans of Riddick probably shouldn't get their hopes up that they will be seeing the character back on screens.