Sony Pictures and Capcom will see synergy across the latest game, Resident Evil 7, and the new movie, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. The new multiplatform game ships on January 24 followed by the film premiere on January 27. It marks the continuation of the 20-year video game franchise and the culmination of the most successful video game-based movie series.
Paul Anderson is the man behind the Hollywood adaptations, having convinced Capcom to explore the big screen with the original Resident Evil back in 2001. Since the original low-budget horror movie debuted in 2002, Anderson has written and produced every Resident Evil film and directed four of them. He also directed the original Mortal Kombat movie and is now preparing to adapt Monster Hunter for the big screen. He talks to [a]listdaily about the key to Resident Evil’s success in this exclusive interview.
How has the Resident Evil game franchise influenced this movie?
The movies are born out of the game franchise. It’s really born out of my love of playing the first two games. That’s how I became involved, and the DNA of the games is just intertwined with the DNA of the movies. Although we tell a slightly different story—we tell a parallel story that very much occurs in the world of the video games. So the look of the movies, the way they’re shot, and the creatures—that’s all very much the world of the games.
How are you going to up the ante with the monsters and the action in this film?
We really went for it. This is the final movie in the franchise, so I felt a great pressure to really deliver for the fans and also end on the best movie of the franchise. The action in this movie is pretty insane. It’s nonstop. By the end of the movie you haven’t just watched the apocalypse, you’ve actually been involved in one.
How has the success of these films impacted what you’ve been able to do this time around?
This is by far the best Resident Evil movie. The main reason for that is that we’ve juxtaposed the big action that the franchise has become known for with the kind of horror that we had in the very first movie. The first movie was very intense. It was all set in one location underground—very claustrophobic and horrific with some great traps. When Colin Salmon got chopped up in the laser grid, it was shocking. As the franchise went along it became more action-oriented. Now we go back to The Hive and back to the horrific feeling of the first movie. This one is combining big action with big horror, which is really the first time we’ve done that because the first movie was relatively a low budget film.
I didn’t have the kind of money to execute the big set pieces that we have in this. In fact, some of the ideas in this film I had 15 years ago but we couldn’t actually execute them. I wanted to kill people in unpleasant and spectacular ways in The Hive back in Berlin 15 years ago. Finally, Sony gave me the money to do it, so some of these scenes have been a long time coming.
What’s it like to get back to Raccoon City after all of these movies?
It was amazing. For The Hive, we actually reconstructed some of the sets that we had originally built for the first movie. So walking onto those sets for the first time was like traveling back in time. It was great.
What has Raccoon City opened up for connecting the cinematic universe with the game universe?
In the movie, we’re returning to The Hive and Raccoon City. Those two things are obviously from the video game universe. The very first game was set in a mansion in the woods outside of Raccoon City that had this lab, which we called The Hive underneath it that’s infested with the worst kind of creatures and horrors and terrors.
So we’re returning to that. We’re bringing characters both from the video game franchise, Claire Redfield, but also characters from the film franchise with Milla’s character, Alice. It’s like the greatest hits of both of the video game franchise and the film franchise.
How has Capcom been involved with this franchise over the years?
I’ve always been heavily influenced by the games. The first thing I did when I signed to do the very first movie was fly to Japan, meet the creator of the game, and pitch him my idea—which I spent two days doing through a translator—then he made his comments. When I write a script now, it’s always sent to Capcom. They always give their thoughts. I always take that into account because while the film franchise and the video game franchise are slightly separate, we never want to do anything that messes with that world, and vice versa. There’s a lot of communication between us.
What do you feel the secret ingredient is to the longevity of the box office success of the Resident Evil movies?
The key to our success is Milla (Jovovich). She is really the beating heart of the franchise. She gives the franchise a humanity that people can latch onto and her struggle of the individual against the giant corporation is something that everyone can really associate with. It’s something that people feel right now—that maybe these big corporations don’t have our best interest at heart, even more than the zombies and the monsters. That for me is what Resident Evil is all about.
How has the film franchise evolved alongside the video games over the years?
They’ve always changed and evolved. That’s very important. If you look at the game franchise, Capcom wasn’t afraid to introduce new characters and new locations. It’s not like Tomb Raider, where as good as Lara Croft was, people became tired of playing Lara Croft. The Resident Evil game franchise always introduced new characters, and we’ve done that as well. We’ve always told new stories and sometimes we’ve been criticized for that because we’ve deviated slightly from the games, but I feel like that’s been the strength of the movie franchise because we’ve expanded the universe.
We haven’t just done the straight adaptation. We’ve shown the fans new and interesting things, and in this return to Raccoon City and to The Hive, fans will learn more about the Umbrella Corporation than they’ve ever known before. They’re going to discover all the dark secrets of Umbrella, of Alice, of the Red Queen, and answer a lot of questions that people have had for the last 15 years.
Is this really the final chapter?
Absolutely. It’s the end of the franchise and it brings the whole story full circle. It’s Milla returning to The Hive, returning to where everything began, and finishing the job that she started 15 years ago.
Resident Evil 7 is coming out for PlayStation VR. Do you have any thoughts about virtual reality gaming?
I love VR. I’ve always been an early adopter and I loved 3D when it first came out. Resident Evil was right on the cutting edge of that. We were the first native 3D movie to come out after Avatar and I love VR for exactly the same reason. Anything that expands the world of gaming and the world of movies and makes them more immersive, I want to be involved in.
How will these Resident Evil movies help you bring Monster Hunter to the big screen?
We’ve made the biggest and the best video game movie adaptation ever, so that’s made us the premium brand in terms of adapting video games. It’s definitely eased the path for Monster Hunter.