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Resident Evil vs. Underworld: A Closer Look at Two Bonkers Franchises

February 4, 2017

The Resident Evil and Underworld series have been plugging along since 2002 and have a combined 11 films between them. I’ve watched all of them and 100% believe I couldn’t give you a plot synopsis because they’ve been like a roller coaster of tangled plots, prequels and gobbledygook. However, I sorta love them because they are perfect background films that provide a welcome relief from absorbing movies that are actually good. They are the cinematic equivalent of comfort food and I don’t care that they offer nothing of substance or logic. For instance, in the first Resident Evil film why didn’t Umbrella just start with the checkered laser death trap?



I really wanted to know which series has been more successful on multiple levels. The following post pits the two franchises against each other and only one can survive to live and stylishly kick zombie dogs or werewolves.




1. Worldwide Box Office

The Resident Evil series (Resident Evil, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Resident Evil: Extinction, Resident Evil: Afterlife, Resident Evil: Retribution, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter)  has collected over $1,000,000,000 dollars worldwide and have an average box office of $184 million. This number is impressive considering the average budget is $48 million. This is all speculative but if you doubled the budget to include marketing and subtract the money the theaters kept the profit for the series is $70 million per film.

The Underworld series (Underworld, Underworld: Evolution, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, Underworld Awakening, Underworld: Blood Wars) has pulled in $536,000,000 worldwide and each movie has an average box office of $107,000,000. The average budget is $42,400,000,000 which means the ROI is quite lower than that of Resident Evil. I’m pretty sure they only broke even at the box office after marketing and theater receipts. However, they’ve had a long life on cable and are probably playing on FX right now. Thus, they are long term investments that keep bringing money in.

Winner: Resident Evil – The surprising box office averages win the day.

2. Critical Reception

Underworld – 28.6% Rotten Tomatoes score and 36.6% Metacritic score.

Resident Evil – 28.1% Rotten Tomatoes score and 39.8% Metacritic score.

To be fair the Underworld and Resident Evil franchises have never had an interest in appeasing critics. They simply wanted to feature people in leather killing creatures. Thus, you won’t be surprised that neither series is close to fresh (60% or above). I was surprised to learn that the two series have a higher Metacritic score than Rotten Tomatoes score. Normally the RT score is higher and it proves  most critics don’t really hate the series. They simply are only 38% sold on them. I actually think that average is quite right.

Winner: Resident Evil

3. Audience Reception

Underworld – 6.6 IMDb User Score

Resident Evil – 6.1 IMDb User Score

I kinda love that the IMDb user scores are double the RT scores. The 63.65 average between the two is about the average for every IMDb rating (6.38). What I love about the two series is how they’ve managed to become critic proof (until recently). They have a solid fanbase of diehards who plunk down money and seem to genuinely like them. I was kinda shocked to see that the Underworld series has a 6.6 rating on IMDb. It is above average and seems awfully kind for a series that has taken a massive nosedive as of late.

underworld selene

Audiences love Selene and her spinning tactics.

Winner – Underworld


4. Which series makes the most sense?

I believe that the Resident Evil franchise makes the most sense because it never tried to make sense (which is genius). It has bounced all over the place and  features a line saying “The plague dried up the rivers.” Nothing makes sense and I’m pretty sure Alice’s powers have differentiated from film to film. Director Paul W.S. Anderson (Three Musketeers, Pompeii, Event Horizon) has used the series as a playing ground that has pushed the limits of 3D and continuity. The series has gotten better and better and I love what the A.V. Club had to say about them:

The series’ best entries—the fourth and fifth, both directed by Anderson himself—are pulpy sci-fi slice-’em-up flicks distinguished by their sharply staged action and the ways in which they play around with viewer perspective and their own convoluted mythos. They are lean and lively and fun and totally unpretentious, and, creatively and commercially speaking, they’re the closest thing to a bona fide success to come out of the game adaption gold rush of the 2000s—the days of Doom, Hitman, and the Uwe Boll tax write-off. They even have a poetry to them.

The Resident Evil films are totally unpretentious and haven’t faded in quality throughout the years. The Underworld series has become a jumbled mess that features really bad action and tighter leather. The plots are barely coherent and when the Resident Evil series is better in comparison you might be worried.

Winner: Resident Evil

The overall winner is Resident Evil! – Long live Alice! 


11 Comments leave one →
  1. February 4, 2017 1:25 pm

    Great topic for a post. I haven’t seen more than the first 2 films in each series so I can’t make a full judgement, but I thought the original RE was better than the original UW.

  2. John Leavengood permalink
    February 6, 2017 9:46 am

    This is a fun, feisty read! It’s funny and unexpected, though not necessarily shocking, that their RT/IMDB scores and box office grosses were so similar. “The plague dried up the rivers.” LMAO. Gotta’ watch out for those T-viruses…apparently they volatilize large bodies of water. Quadrillions of gallons of water: vaporized. See…? This is why parents need to vaccinate their children–river conservation.


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