Critical acclaim and fan response may often be what people harp on when it comes to a film’s success, but money always carries the most weight. In the weeks since Resident Evil: The Final Chapter has been released, the film’s franchise has now passed the billion dollar mark. Six films over fifteen years may have garnered a lackluster score on Rotten Tomatoes, but the world’s most successful video game turned film has now joined a club with members like Star Wars, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Harry Potter, and James Bond.
The Final Chapter, which director Paul W. S. Anderson has said was always meant to be the end of the series, brings Alice’s story to a close. Taking fans back to Racoon City, where it all began, and bringing back fan favorites (like Ali Larter’s Claire Redfield), the sixth film is a familiar story that doesn’t quite close the door completely. As the worldwide box office grows, it’s easy to see why the final chapter may not be so final.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter didn’t go out in a box office blaze of glory, but the sixth installment could hardly be called a flop. The film just opened in China on February 24th, but according to Deadline, has already pulled in over $94 million in its opening weekend. With $33 million on opening day alone, The Final Chapter is the third biggest Hollywood opening in the Chinese market behind Furious 7 and Warcraft. Produced by German company, Constantin Film, the movie was released under their Chinese partner brand, Leomus Pictures. Attributing part of the film’s success to a highly targeted marketing campaign throughout China, Constantin executive, Martin Moszkowicz said:
“Throughout the whole course, they have demonstrated professional understanding about the market, the audience and the IP, and came up with a very solid marketing and distribution plan that contributed to the huge box office success in China.”
The marketing focused on the nostalgia of the game series via more traditional avenues and less so on social media. Constantin also believes advertising during the Chinese New Year holiday may have helped as well. The worldwide total for Resident Evil: The Final Chapter now stands at $239 million, and means this sixth film could surpass previous franchise leader, Resident Evil: Retribution‘s $296 million worldwide gross. The video game franchise films did not begin to hit the Chinese market until the release of Resident Evil: Afterlife; which was the fourth installment. Since bowing to the large Chinese market back in 2010, the series has garnered much of it’s earnings from overseas markets.
The trend of genre films under-performing domestic expectations has been far less devastating when they prove wildly successful overseas. The relatively swift rise in Chinese box office influence is being felt throughout Hollywood; and it’s a trend that could keep sequels and reboots on the rise. While the film has only posted $27 million domestically, fans shouldn’t be surprised if its large overseas haul resurrects the franchise for a seventh film.