Posted by Alia Haddad on September 17, 2012 at 9:58 am
The Resident Evil franchise is a curious case in the typical blockbuster franchise business of Hollywood, in that while these films–the fifth of which, Resident Evil: Retribution, opened this weekend–definitely constitute a franchise, they are much less, if ever, defined as blockbusters. In fact, it wasn’t even until I read an article detailing this weekend box office numbers that I finally found out what the Resident Evil series is actually about. It turns out that a movie franchise I was sure was something like A.I. Artificial Intelligence meets The Fifth Element is actually about a zombie hunter in the midst of an apocalypse. What?! I love zombies AND apocalypses (you should see just how excited I am about the upcoming Brad-Pitt-led book-turned-film adaptation of World War Z). How is it possible that it was only after the release of the fifth installment that I finally found out what this series is actually about? Well, I guess Milla Jovovich’s futuristic, robot-esque style didn’t help matters, but mostly I blame marketing and publicity. Surely I am not the only person who has myriad misconceptions of the Resident Evil series.
And yet, Resident Evil: Retribution took the lead at the box office this weekend, with a gross of $21 million, even beating out the limited release of sure Oscar contender Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master. To be fair, in a post-Spider Man and The Avengers box office, $21 million is almost chump change. But still, Resident Evil: Retribution came out on top.
The one question that keeps reappearing in my mind while thinking about these somewhat surprising box office statistics is: “Why?” As far as I’m concerned, the franchise’s publicity is minimal at best. Aside from subway posters, I’m not sure I’ve seen another form of advertisement, and I have definitely never seen a trailer.
Is this Resident Evil population an underground devoted audience who doesn’t need to be bothered with thinks such as interviews, talk shows, and red carpets? That’s quite a large underground audience. And even so, I know of no one personally who has seen this movie. In fact, everyone I talked to who saw a movie this weekend went to see the second-best in box office standards, The Master. So, who really saw Resident Evil: Retribution? Was it you?