We got screwed out of a George Romero Resident Evil movie in 2002 (sorry, I’ll never get over that and I’m linking to it again). Remember, back when the games were still good? Hype was big for the Resident Evil movie at the time and then when it came, I thought it was mediocre at best. That stupid fucking computer, that baffling Milla Jovovich character.
And I can handle straying from the official narrative, but not when it’s just straight fucking garbage. I don’t buy the ‘so bad it’s good’ excuse either, nor the ‘guilty pleasure’ chestnut. It’s all round bad. It also got worse with each movie. A personal anecdote; twice while lining up for a movie at the cinema, I’ve heard people gush and rave about these movies. And not in a joking way, but genuine adoration. I suspect the ‘guilty pleasure’ thing is a facade, covering embarrassment, people genuinely like them.
But something odd also happened. The worse the movies got, the more money they earned. And something that has puzzled me for so long now is just who the fuck is watching this goddamned vomit?! Demographic info is hard to find, so the best I could find was voting averages on the IMDb.
This is what it looks like, movie by movie, below.
Resident Evil (2002)
Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)
Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)
Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2017)
Obviously, the IMDb does not reflect the audience at large but I think we can see a clear pattern here. The people who like these movies mostly are females and teenagers, especially teenage females. And given that the IMDb is hardly a site used by today’s youngsters, the real statistics are probably similar but stronger. I’m guessing the reason behind this is Milla Jovovich fangirls? Who knows.
Conversly, CapCom told Destructoid a while back that, as far as the games go; “The main user group is now in their late-30s to 40s, and the average age is also going up”. It seems clear that people who play the games, especially veterans, probably don’t enjoy the movies.
What does series architect Paul W.S. Anderson think? Well, he doesn’t care. Here is what he told AICN in 2010;
You get a lot of stuff written about you–good stuff and bad stuff and if people don’t like you, they really don’t like you, and they are very vocal about it. But you have to look at the bigger picture, which is for my movies to work or not work, like the last RESIDENT EVIL theatrically made $150 million worldwide, which if every movie ticket cost $10 dollars–which it doesn’t, they are cheaper than that–that’s 15 million people that went to go see the movie worldwide. Now, what am I going to care more about, 15 million people who pay their money to go see a film or a few hundred people who vocally express their opinions on the internet?
Obviously, there are more than a ‘few hundred’ who dislike the series, including critics. But what do you do, assuage critics and gamble by trying to tap into the (big!) game fanbase, or stay the safe course and appeal to teenage girls (and boys), whose main form of ‘going out’ with friends is to repeated cinema viewings since their parents still won’t let ’em drink?
Well, from a financial point of view, it’s difficult to argue…