Do you love movies based off popular video game franchises? Then you'll be excited to hear that Sony Pictures is already promoting Resident Evil: Retribution, the fifth film in the franchise. It'll be released on September 14th, and the filmmakers are already talking about making a sixth film, as well as a potential prequel trilogy and spin-off. With Capcom Entertainment confirming that Resident Evil 6 is coming to consoles on November 20th – an announcement that coincided with the debut of the new movie trailer – gamers might question why Hollywood has become so infatuated with Resident Evil.
Like almost everything involving Hollywood, the answer is money.
The original Resident Evil movie, which was filmed in Berlin, was an independent film. It was financed outside of the studio system for just $33 million, through Constantin Film. Sony Pictures’ Screen Gems agreed to distribute the film, which featured actresses Michelle Rodriguez and Milla Jovovich very early in their careers.
“I remember the deal we had on it was that if the movie didn’t do incredibly well at its first American test, and these are incredibly stressful things for a filmmaker anyway, when you go and first put your movie in front of the public...if we didn’t score a certain amount, they could have put the movie straight to DVD,” said Paul Anderson, who has produced and written every film and now directed three of them.
Producers Jeremy Bolt and Anderson decided very early on to not follow the storylines from the game. A gamer himself, Anderson said he had no interest in watching what Capcom’s developers had already done very well in their bestselling games. Instead, the films have focused on an original character, Alice (played by Jovovich), and had her team up with key characters from the games like Jill Valentine, Claire Redfield, Chris Redfield, and Albert Wesker. Retribution introduces Leon S. Kennedy, Ada Wong and Barry Burton to the mix.
“I think we’re stealing from each other, in a good way,” said Bolt. “The films and the games are set in two different worlds. Capcom is good at what they’re doing, and we try to do our thing. I think we want to keep it that way.”
So far, it seems to be working. The first Resident Evil film earned $17 million in its opening weekend in the U.S. and went on to make $102 million globally in theaters in 2002. The sequel Resident Evil: Apocalypse received full studio support from Screen Gems and a $45 million budget, earning over $129 million globally in 2004. The Resident Evil movies kept coming and as the budget gradually increased, so did the profits at the box office. Most recently, the film Resident Evil: Extinction earned more than $148 million in theaters in 2007.
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