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"Resident Evil" A Billion $ film franchise that will not be Stopped
Let's Follow the Money
Let’s take a look at the five part film series, Resident Evil and try to discover why it has been successful and where it may be headed. The series is based upon the video game and the films incorporate ‘game like” activities, mainly the shooting of mindless zombies that threaten to take over the planet. In 1999,George A. Romero was hired by Sony and Capcom to direct and write Resident Evil, however no one liked it and Paul W. S. Anderson wrote an approved script. He was hired by Sony to direct the film. Anderson stated that "under-performing movie tie-ins are too common and Resident Evil, of all games, deserved a good celluloid representation.”* When one views that film, it appears to be little more that humans running through a labyrinth (like a video game) shooting up the zombies at every turn.
However, the basic concepts were laid out that set the framework for all that was to follow. In retrospect, Romero’s script must have been incomprehensible as this script could not have been much effort to write. The critics hated Anderson’s film and Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 34% approval rating as those viewers did not like it much either. Let’s take a look at the figures:
................................. Budget ...... Box Office
Resident Evil (2001)…$33 Million… $102 Million
R.E. Apocalypse (2004)$45 Million. $129 Million
R.E. Extinction (2007) $45 Million….$147 Million
R.E. Afterlife (2010)… $60 Million… $296 Million
R.E. Retribution (2012).$65 Million… $221 Million
The first three films are considered to be low budget production figures as modest budget films run around $60 and big budget films usually run $100-$130 million. The first three films all have a low budget feel to them while the Afterlife demonstrates better production values and 3D was added to the mix. The 3D can add to the expenses. This film does stand out from the others, both in storyline and production values. Gone is the feel of a video game as we now see Alice flying to Alaska looking for survivors and she finds Claire with an Umbrella device attached to her chest and her mind erased. She removes the device and Claire begins to recover. These scenes may very well be the highlight of the entire series to this point. Audiences apparently saw more than a “shoot’m up video game” here and profits soared.
Up the Ante
One can imagine that the producers were learning their craft at this point and knew how to bring up the production values dramatically with a modest budget. The film has a bigger budget feel to it, much more than the $65 million would indicate. The general public was now attending these films for the first time.
In R.E. Retribution, the $65 million dollar budget is wisely utilized as the graphics are stunningly beautiful along with the use of gorgeous 3D. The storyline unfortunately takes a turn back to the video game where the characters are simply moving though Umbrella headquarters trying to escape. The audience may have been dazzled by the beautiful simulated settings, Red Square, Suburbia, and Las Vegas, however found the plot both simple and confusing. It was confusing in that Alice clones could be mistaken for Alice as they were worked into the story. Then too simple, as anything that occurred was little more than a shootout trying to get out of Umbrella headquarters.
Sixth Film is on its Way
A sixth film is in the planning stages as the Retribution film, while a disappointment in some respects, did earn a generous profit. Let’s hope they can come up with a storyline that is the best ever and get further away from the videogame aspects. The fourth film should have demonstrated that more imaginative storylines bring in the larger audiences. When they combine a great story with beautiful graphics, they will join the ranks of the big budget producers.
In that this budget franchise is gaining momentum, I would suggest that they move up the budget, insist upon a script that is first rate and get to work bringing in a half billion dollar box-office.
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