Four Resident Evil movies are leaving Netflix by the end of June.
It’s not uncommon for popular film titles to leave a streaming platform once the licensing expires, and the Resident Evil franchise is no exception. In the case of Resident Evil, we will see a number of titles leaving the streaming platform on July 1, 2023: Resident Evil, Apocalypse, Afterlife, and Retribution. But don’t let the calendar date deceive you because according to What’s on Netflix, the cutoff date for viewing is more like June 30.
The Resident Evil films center around Alice (Milla Jovovich), who finds herself suffering memory loss after being exposed to nerve gas while working at the Umbrella Corporation. Right off the bat, we’re clued into the nefarious workings of the Umbrella Corporation and the T-Virus that they unleashed upon humanity which converted people into zombies. As Alice’s memory slowly comes back to her, we learn more about Umbrella’s corruption, and we root for her as she navigates her way through a post-apocalyptic hellscape.
The Resident Evil film series may pale in comparison compared to MCU films in regard to box office numbers but still raked in a total of $1.28 billion across six films and its subsequent 2021 reboot, which is nothing to scoff at. Based on the Capcom video game series of the same name, these Paul W.S. Anderson films garnered a cult following despite their poor critical reception. What’s more, the Resident Evil film series currently holds the record for most live-action video game adaptations and, until recently, was the highest-grossing zombie film series.
The Resident Evil film franchise kicked off in 2002, and Milla Jovovich (The Fifth Element) had the star power as well as the experience in the science-fiction genre to help make the action horror film series a box office success. We’re going to go out on a limb here and speculate that Milla Jovovich’s romantic involvement with and subsequent marriage to director Paul W.S. Anderson certainly didn’t hurt her career prospects as Resident Evil blossomed from a single film adaptation to a lucrative franchise. However, it’s worth noting that nepotism wasn’t part of the equation, considering how devoted Milla Jovovich was to her Alice character.
Milla Jovovich was a hot ticket at the time of Resident Evil’s casting, and her extensive martial arts training certainly helped carry the franchise along. While many critics have panned Resident Evil for CGI that did not age well against today’s technology, Jovovich’s ability to perform many of her own stunts, as well as her commitment to portraying Alice still made the films worth watching despite some glaring inconsistencies that involved her character’s telekinetic powers in the later films. Even though Alice’s powers are taken away and given back to her at times that are convenient to the storytelling, there’s no question that she still knew how to expertly fight off hordes of the undead through sheer brute force.
The first Resident Evil film raked in over $100 million against a budget of $33 million, and subsequent films fared quite well. The sixth installment, entitled The Final Chapter, came close to a $315 million worldwide box office total, making it the highest-grossing Resident Evil film. But it’s worth noting that the critical scores on Rotten Tomatoes for the entire franchise never surpassed 37 percent, which goes to show you that audience reception is the more important factor to consider in this case.
Even though the Resident Evil franchise was considered to be successful at the box office, the Netflix series wasn’t seen as favorably by fans or critics and only lasted one season. Series executive producer Oliver Berben stated in an interview that one of the most obvious reasons the series didn’t get picked up for a second season came down to targeting the wrong demographic. It’s no question that the Resident Evil IP is one that boasts a loyal fan base, but the series itself was targeted toward a young-adult female demographic, which is a far cry from the film franchise’s audience, which appealed to an older male audience.
It’s one thing to adapt a formula that works in film and adapt it to a series, but the Resident Evil Netflix series deviated too far from the source material. Fans of the original video games and the film franchise felt like Resident Evil didn’t get proper treatment when it was revived as a series. It only took a couple of weeks to see a massive viewership drop on Netflix’s Resident Evil, and the series never recovered.
For now, we say goodbye to Resident Evil, but we’re hoping another streaming platform gives the franchise a new home in the coming months.