You can’t cheat death, but you can reboot it. New Line Cinema is rekindling their hit horror franchise Final Destination and they’ve recruited Saw and The Collector duo Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton to write the script. Per The Hollywood Reporter, plot details for the new Final Destination film are still under wraps, but the outlet describes the new installment as “a re-imagining of the franchise.”
Final Destination launched in 2000, and the franchise became a driving force for New Line’s horror box office throughout the decade, spawning four sequels, culminating in 2011’s clever wrap-around film Final Destination 5. James Wong directed the first film, which starred Devon Sawa, Ali Larter and Seann William Scott as teenagers who escaped a horrific plane crash only to find that death came back to claim their lives one by one. The sequels followed suit, each opening with a spectacular disaster set-piece and centering and following the character who manages to cheat death and save their friends thanks to a horrifying premonition. But death always comes to collect. For my money, it’s still one of the best ideas for a high concept horror franchise… well, ever. And it definitely offers endless possibilities to the duo behind the script. Jeffrey Redick created the franchise and wrote the first film’s script.
New Line has been making a killing in horror over recent years (and as “The House that Freddy Built” they’re no stranger to the game) and I’ve been saying for a while that it was only a matter of time before they pulled the trigger on bringing the Final Destination franchise back. The Conjuring franchise and all its spinoffs have been slaying the box office since James Wan launched that franchise in 2013, and last year’s Conjuring-verse film The Nun stunned with $365 million worldwide — making it the highest-grossing film in the franchise yet. And the, of course, there’s IT, the first of the two-part Stephen King adaptation that shattered box office records in 2017 with a $123 opening weekend and more than $700 worldwide. With horror on the rise throughout the film and TV industry, across studios and indies (Hereditary beat out Lady Bird as A24’s highest-grossing film last year, for one example), now is a very good time to rekindle the franchise that earned New Line almost $700 million worldwide in the early aughts.
As for Melton and Dunston, the creative duo is best known for writing four Saw films, from Saw IV to Saw 3D: The Final Chapter, after which they went on to make two The Collector films. The low-budget horror thrillers centered on a sadistic collector of people and shared the Saw franchise’s blood lust and penchant for horrific traps without the studio sheen. While the fun of the Final Destination films is built around the increasingly intricate and absurd Rube Goldberg-like ways Death comes hunting for its survivors, it was never quite a a so-called “torture porn” franchise and lacked the sadistic bent that defines a lot of Melton and Dunston’s previous works. Hopefully, the duo will channel their knack for creative kills into something that feels at home in the unique tone of the Final Destination franchise. Melton and Dunstant most recently penned CBS Films’ upcoming Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.
As any listener of The Witching Hour knows, I’m a huge fan of the Final Destination franchise, and while I’m excited to see it return, I’m a little sad to see it will be a reboot — sorry, “re-imagining” rather than a continuation of the existing franchise. While Final Destination was unique in that there weren’t many players who returned for sequel (cuz they dead), the scripts always did a good job tying the mythology together. The most important question — Is Bludworth coming back?!
We’ll have to wait and see when Final Destination returns to theaters. No release date is set at this point, but if the studio fast tracks the project, they’ll be in good shape to land in theaters next year, just in time for the 20th anniversary.