By Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
Updated April 18, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

Vin Diesel may pack a punch, but does he carry his weight at the box office? Last summer, three months before the highly hyped XXX hit theaters, Revolution reportedly signed the star to a $20 million deal to reprise his role in a sequel. XXX opened at $44.5 million, dropped 50 percent in its second week, and worked its way to a domestic total of $141.2 million — strong, but below some industry analysts’ predictions.

Then, last fall, Knockaround Guys (long delayed by New Line) earned just $11.7 million and less than $2 million overseas, where Diesel has a mixed record: XXX scored about $140 million abroad, but 2000’s Pitch Black and 2001’s Fast and the Furious didn’t score.

Last week’s A Man Apart — also delayed by New Line — opened at $11 million, below Colin Farrell’s Phone Booth and Amanda Bynes’ What a Girl Wants.

Diesel fans do buy DVDs: Furious had disc sales of $132 million. But Universal, which is reportedly paying Diesel $12.5 million for The Chronicles of Riddick, the Pitch Black sequel, and Columbia, which cast him to lead Hannibal for a reported $11 million, are banking on Diesel’s return to box office glory. The star may be one step ahead of naysayers: He’s attached to Revolution’s romantic comedy NY Giant, and is talking about playing Sky Masterson in an adaptation of Guys and Dolls. Clearly, he’s willing to sing for his supper.