When it comes to unlikely long-term franchises, it’s hard to think of a better recent example than Resident Evil. Based – albeit very loosely – on the blockbuster survival horror video game series of the same name, the Resident Evil movies have managed to overcome critical drubbing after critical drubbing, quietly racking up profits along the way. The first Resident Evil film hit screens back in 2002, and immediately turned off many fans of the source material by centering the story around original character Alice (Milla Jovovich), instead of any of the heroes from the games.
Despite these issues – and a 34 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes – Resident Evil became big business very fast, earning over $100 million worldwide on a budget of only $33 million. Each of the four sequels to be released so far since – Apocalypse, Extinction, Afterlife, and Retribution – have all followed similar patterns, earning nine-figure returns on eight-figure budgets. The most successful to date is 2010’s Afterlife, which hauled in nearly $300 million worldwide on a budget of $66 million.
With the latest – and purportedly last – installment in the Alice saga, titled Resident Evil: The Final Chapter , hitting U.S. theaters as of Friday, Deadline reports that the often divisive franchise is poised to pass a significant financial milestone this weekend. The Final Chapter – which has already grossed $35 million during its early release in Japan – is expected to earn enough money globally this weekend to push the series’ total gross over the $1 billion mark before the end of Sunday showings. That number was sitting at $951 million going into Friday’s domestic opening of Final Chapter.
It obviously remains to be seen whether The Final Chapter will manage to become the biggest overall earner of the franchise, but it definitely has a long way to go before it even enters striking distance of Afterlife’s sum. Whether or not Final Chapter vaults over Afterlife will likely rely almost entirely on overseas grosses, due to the fact that as the series has gone on, each sequel’s earnings have become more and more lopsided toward international numbers versus domestic. For example, Afterlife and Retribution both earned far less than $100 million domestically, but made up for that by each bringing in another $200 million or so from overseas theaters.
One thing not about to change with the arrival of Final Chapter are the series’ critical fortunes, with the sequel sporting a paltry 39 percent score on RT. At this point though, it’s quite clear that those who love the Resident Evil movies couldn’t possibly care less what critics think about them. If Final Chapter ends up breaking the bank though, one wonders if this really will be the end for Alice.