Talking With The Filmmakers
"I've always wanted to make a really scary movie," says producer Bernd Eichinger of Constantin Film.
"After I caught people in my office playing the Resident Evil game when it first hit the marketplace, I could instantly see its movie potential. It wasn't gory or too violent - just completely terrifying to play - and I knew if we could transfer that quality to the screen we would be on to a real winner." In 1979 Constantin had distributed Dawn of the Dead, cult director George Romero's most successful film in Germany, and Eicbinger knew there was an audience out there eager for a return to such a terrifying pop culture fantasy world.
Once the decision had been made to pursue the film rights to the game, overtures were made to Capcom, the world's leading computer games manufacturer. Produced and created by Shinji Mikami and creatively masterminded by Yoshiki Okamoto, the game series is comprised of
Resident Evil (1996), Resident Evil 2 (1998), Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (1998) and
Resident Evil - Code: Veronica (2000). To date the award-winning blockbuster series has sold more than 16 million units world-wide and grossed over $600 million. The next
Resident Evil game will be released in May, 2002.
Eichinger continues, "We went to Capcom's headquarters in Japan to show the company that we got what the game was about and that we were capable of making a big international movie from their successful game. I promised them we would take their concept seriously and consult them on a regular basis." He adds, "I think the prime reason we beat out any fierce Hollywood competition for the rights is because Constantin is an independent company. When we make decisions, we make them fast, because there aren't a hundred other executives to consult. Capcom responded with equal promptness and we were granted the film rights in 1997."
After securing the Resident Evil film rights, Eichinger then set about turning one of the world's most popular video games into an exciting, thrilling and frightening movie-going experience. "The problem was always going to be how to get film audiences to experience the terror of an interactive game without being able to use the interactive element. The answer lay in not imitating the game in every detail but in replicating its feelings of total shock and horror," he says.
After a couple of years spent developing the project, everything snapped into focus for Fichinger when Constantin entered a deal with Impact Pictures, founded by Jeremy Bolt and Paul W.S. Anderson, the producer/director team behind Mortal Kombat and Event Horizon. Jeremy Bolt explains, "We had been talking to Constantin about developing and financing a few projects when, by pure chance, we discovered they owned the rights to
Resident Evil, a game Paul and I enjoyed enormously. Bernd Eichinger was impressed by Paul's knowledge of the game and asked him if he'd be interested in writing a script. When Bernd read it, he knew the concept he had been looking for had finally been cracked."
Bernd Eichinger adds, "Paul's script combined the elements of the game in fresh ways to maximise surprise and suspense. Plus Paul had directed the only successful video game film adaptation to date with Mortal Kombat. That meant he knew all the pitfalls and we could benefit from his enormous wealth of experience on that picture."
"I'm a huge fan of the Resident Evil games and have played all of them," says Paul W.S. Anderson.
"As a die-hard fan, I wanted a movie version that is respectful of it, builds on its premise and delivers on its promise. To be scary you have to be unpredictable - and that's why I wanted to use a set of fresh characters. We couldn't use the Jill Valentine character fr
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