Weekend Forecast for September 10-12, 2010

By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis

September 10, 2010

Ask him what The Hammer is.

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In 1996, the nascent Playstation video game console was still awaiting its first killer app. The launch titles for the system were a mediocre lot, with gamers generally liking the concept of the compact disc-based system more than the execution of the early titles. Six months later, the release of a title billed as a survival horror game changed the opinions of many of those frustrated gamers. The original Resident Evil was not only an instant best seller for the Playstation but also one of the best reviewed games during the system’s shaky first 18 months.

Over the years, the Resident Evil franchise grew to become a videogame monolith, eventually earning the dubious honor of big screen adaptation. While many of these attempts flame out in glorious fashion, Resident Evil once again surprised, with several reviewers declaring the zombie thriller’s first outing as the best videogame adaptation ever. Yes, that was an ignoble compliment, but the first Resident Evil film demonstrated an innate understanding of the concept that made the videogame franchise so popular. People love killing zombie dogs. When the trailer advertised Milla Jovovich kicking one of them in teeth, consumers were hooked. The movie was a surprise opening weekend hit, earning $17.7 million (an inflation-adjusted tally of right at $23.0 million) on the way to $40.3 million worth of final domestic box office (roughly $52 million in 2010 dollars). The $35 million production wound up with worldwide revenue of $104 million before becoming quite popular on home video, as is oftentimes the case with videogame adaptations as well as zombie flicks. Resident Evil catered to both audiences, proving itself to be a lucrative low budget gothic franchise for Sony Pictures.


You know the rest by now. Resident Evil: Apocalypse may not have been the best movie ever made or even on the good side of the good movie/bad movie equator line. It was, however, a $50 million production that garnered $128.9 million worth of worldwide box office. It also featured the popular Resident Evil character of Jill Valentine, complete with splashy outfit and kicky boots. That part may only interest me and actress Sienna Guillory, whose performance in the film was…lacking.

The financial performance of the second film guaranteed a third and that title, Resident Evil: Extinction, came up with a clever hook. The trailers centered upon a killer concept, a zombie battle taking place in the abandoned tourist trap that once was Las Vegas. The dystopian element played well with consumers as the third Resident Evil release became the largest debut (by a small increment) with $23.7 million on its way to the best worldwide performance for the franchise to date, $146.2 million against a production cost of only $45 million. If you add up the numbers, $130 million worth of (pre-marketing) investments for the films in the Resident Evil franchise have returned residuals in the amount of $380 million. BOP’s Josh Spiegel opined yesterday that he would never understand how these films keep getting made; here is his answer. The combination of zombie battles with a videogame flair sells tickets to people like myself, one of the most ardent supporters of this franchise going all the way back to the initial game’s release in 1996 (I still have my copy in storage somewhere).

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