When “Resident Evil: Retribution” hit theaters Sept. 14, many of its faces no doubt looked familar — to fans of both the films and games.

The fifth installment in this 10-year-old franchise ranks as its most ambitious. And to ensure success, writer-director Paul W.S. Anderson tapped deep into the game and film’s mythology, assembling a who’s who of characters.

Michelle Rodriguez’s Rain Ocampo and Colin Salmon’s James “One” Shade, both from the first film, are back. And popular characters Leon Kennedy, Ada Wong and Barry Burton make their debut from the game world.

They’ll all rack up some serious frequent-flier miles. With settings ranging from Tokyo to New York to Washington, D.C., to Moscow, “Retribution” could be the start of the series’ culmination.

“When I came back to do the fourth film, I said I hope it’s the start of a brand new trilogy,” Anderson says. “I feel like there’s one more movie to be made where everything comes to an amazing climax.”

The film’s epic scale brought with it the series’ biggest budget. “Retribution” had a net production cost of $60 million — twice that of the first film in the series, but just a slight bump from the amount spent on 2010’s “Resident Evil 4.”

Expectations are similarly high. The franchise’s fourth installment grossed $60 million domestically, but took in $235 million outside North America. Martin Moszkowicz, head of film & TV at Constantin and exec producer of the films, says the series earnings to date stands at $700 million ($588 million according to Rentrak) — and the studio expects to cross the $1 billion mark by the end of “Retribution’s” run.

Like its predecessor, “Retribution” was shot in 3D in addition to the standard 2D version. An Imax 3D adaptation will also hit theaters, though the film was shot with Pace cameras. (The bulk of Imax rigs makes them less than ideal for quick-paced action movies.)

While “Retribution” might be part two of Anderson’s second trilogy with “Resident Evil,” he says he hasn’t started work on the final chapter yet, instead pouring all his efforts into this film.

Series star Milla Jovovich, though, says he has dropped a few hints to her.

“A year ago we went on our annual vacation with our daughter,” she says. “We sat up after she went to bed and we talked about ‘Resident Evil 5.’ I said: ‘What happens next?’ Paul said, ‘I do have a loose idea of where we’d go.’ … I’ll give you a hint: The Red Queen (the artificial intelligence supercomputer that played a prominent role in the first film) has something to do with it.”

Resident Evil @ 10
Tapping into his inner gameboy | All vid-based adaptations aren’t created as successfully as ‘Evil’ | Digging into myths for ‘Retribution’