Recently, we reported that Resident Evil: Afterlife had performed well enough for Screen Gems to set a release date for the franchise's next installment, temporarily titled Resident Evil 5.
Given that Screen Gems is targeting a September release date for the film, it shouldn't come as too big of a surprise to hear the studio is finalizing deals with returning cast members - the first of which reveals that fan-favorite character Jill Valentine will return for the sequel.
Actress Sienna Guillory, who has portrayed Jill Valentine since her introduction in Resident Evil: Apocalypse (the second film in the franchise) recently confirmed, via Twitter, that she'll be reprising the role in Resident Evil 5. The announcement will undoubtedly excite fans of the series - as well as any fans of over-sharing:
RE:5 alert! Training begins! I aim to mostly put less in the big hole on the front of my face than comes out of the little one on my arse.
Director Paul W.S. Anderson has previously expressed interest in fan input for future Resident Evil films and, given the introduction of Chris Redfield in Afterlife, it seems as though Anderson is trying to tone-down liberties he took in the earlier films - in order to take advantage of identifiable game characters and plot-lines. That said, don't expect the film to simply be a movie version of the already cinematic games - since there are plenty of holdover film storylines that don't mesh with the game canon.
A word of warning, the following paragraph may contain mild spoilers for anyone who hasn't seen Resident Evil: Afterlife (or is sensitive about how the prior film might play into Resident Evil 5):
The return of Jill Valentine isn't likely to surprise fans who stuck around after the conclusion of Resident Evil: Afterlife. During the credits audiences were treated to a brief cameo showing the ex-STARS member leading a helicopter squadron into battle against Milla Jovovich and her team. It was also apparent (as seen in the image above) that Jill is currently under the influence of an Umbrella mind-control device attached to her chest. The device was used earlier in the film (resulting in a feral Claire Redfield) and is also a major plot-element in Resident Evil 5, the game. How the device will play into the larger Resident Evil 5 story is unclear at this point - meaning, it's possible that Jill Valentine could be a central villain throughout the entire film.
End of Resident Evil: Afterlife spoilers.
Moving the Resident Evil film franchise away from its reliance on Milla Jovovich's Alice is a smart move - a move that we praised in our Resident Evil: Afterlife review. Not only has the Alice plotline become increasingly absurd, there isn't a lot of uncharted character territory left to be explored. Obviously, Jovovich is likely to return for Resident Evil 5 but as the film franchise absorbs more fan-favorite game characters, it opens an exit door for Jovavich - should she ever want to walk away.
Aside from the basic movie-making need for fresh character arcs (and reliance on nostalgia), there's no doubt that Capcom has an interest in creating a bridge between the games and films - so that there's less of a learning curve for movie fans who might be interested in checking out a Resident Evil videogame.
Resident Evil 5 is scheduled to hit theaters September 14, 2012.