After a mediocre performance in North America and most international territories, Resident Evil is taking Japan by storm with a first week gross of $10m.
Released on an initial 190 screens nationwide, distributor Amuse Pictures expects the action-horror title, based on the popular video game series, to end up grossing at least $25m from 1.5 million admissions in the territory.
Resident Evil's Japanese success is all the more surprising given the film's brief theatrical life elsewhere. In comparison, the film grossed a disappointing $39.5m from its US run. Internationally, the film fared equally poorly, with total grosses recorded in: The UK - $4.3m; Germany - $5.8m; Italy $3.5m; Australia - $1.5m and Mexico - $3.1m.
The Resident Evil game series is big factor in the film's success, moving seven million units in Japan - almost one-third of its worldwide total - although many game-based films have bombed in Japan, including the locally produced Final Fantasy.
Amuse also believes star Milla Jovovich to be a significant factor in attracting the mainly teenage male audience, "There's a hunger here for female action stars and Milla fits the bill," commented Amuse publicist Tsukuru Matsumoto, " it is also a stand-alone action film, you don't have to know the game to enjoy it".
Another important factor may be that both Jovovich and director Paul WS Anderson visited Japan in August to promote the film.