Samuel Hadida, the French godfather of the “Resident Evil” film franchise, got on board the project after pulling an all-nighter playing the video game with his son who was a fan of the game. Hadida admits he quickly became addicted. “I’ve never been a gamer but I immediately clicked with this one: I’ve always loved comic books, Marvel’s in particular, and movies from Dario Argento and George A. Romero. ‘Dawn of the Dead’ is one of my favorite films and I’ve been obsessed with zombies ever since,” says Hadida, who runs the Paris-based production company Davis Films and distribution outfit Metropolitan Filmexport with his brother Victor.
Hadida initially called Robert Kulzer, the producer of the film, after seeing a note on the game that invited people to participate in a lottery to be an extra on the film, which was then at script stage. “My son was so desperate to be anywhere in this film, I called Robert to ask him if my son could get a small part, and that’s how it all started,” says Hadida, whose credits also include “The Expendables 3,” “Silent Hill,” and “Good Night, and Good Luck.”
After speaking to Kulzer, Hadida learned the $30 million project was on the verge of collapse. “Constantin Film was struggling to get the project off the ground because Romero, who was then in charge of the screenplay, was writing a sort of sequel to ‘Dawn of the Dead’ and that didn’t match the DNA of the video game franchise,” says Hadida. He offered Constantine a 50/50 venture that would bring in half of the budget.
Once Hadida joined the project, he and Constantin Film had eight months to get a director, a writer and kick off the production before the expiration of the option. “Capcom [the Japanese developer and publisher of ‘Resident Evil’] had gotten cold feet and said they didn’t want to renew the option, so we had to act very quickly,” says the Paris-based producer.
Paul W.S. Anderson, a fan of the “Resident Evil” games and who had directed “Mortal Kombat” and “Shopping,” was a perfect fit to take over the script from Romero and eventually direct the movie. “We needed a director and writer who could transcend the genre, tackle new technologies, bring some fun into the franchise while staying in tune with the brand; and that was him,” says Hadida.
Sony came on board only after the movie had been pre-sold around the world. Seeing the worldwide success of the first opus, Sony then became a full partner on the franchise and has been releasing the movies globally, except in France and Germany where Metropolitan Filmexport and Constantin Film are handling.
While the latest opus is called “Final Chapter,” Hadida says there’s more in store for “Resident” fans.