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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Cracking the case: The mysterious success of 'The Final Destination'

If there were ever a movie that shouldn't end up making as much as $190 million around the world, it is "The Final Destination," a homely horror thriller that is the third, and least-loved sequel in New Line's low-budget "Final Destination" horror franchise. The first three movies, released from 2000 to 2006, were modest successes, each one earning around $50 million in the U.S., and only slightly more overseas. It's a sign of the franchise's below-the-radar consistency that "FD3," released in 2006, had virtually the same exact box-office numbers as the original film, earning $54 million domestically and $58.7 million overseas.

Final_Destination_PosterIIII So how on earth did the fourth film in the series, released on Aug.28th -- an end-of-the-summer weekend that is normally a dumping ground for studio dregs -- end up breaking all the "FD" franchise records, making $65.8 million domestically and $95.7 million overseas, with Warner Bros. predicting it will eventually do close to $125 million in the international market? (The film still hasn't opened in Japan, Australia, Italy or Spain.) 

It certainly isn't because "Final Destination" was a better movie than its predecessors, since it earned a lowly 28 at Rotten Tomatoes, making it the worst-reviewed installment in the series. The reason for "The Final Destination's" success is simple, says New Line chief Toby Emmerich. It was in 3-D. "These days, instead of asking myself what movies am I making in 3-D, I'm asking what movies am I actually not making in 3-D," says Emmerich. "All the numbers we've seen have pointed to the fact that 3-D played a huge role in numbers we got for 'Final Destination.'"

After the third movie in the series was released in 2006, Emmerich was ready to put the franchise to bed. "I really thought 'Final Destination' was dead as a franchise, but when we saw how well 'Journey to the Center of the Earth' did in 3-D, we thought we could justify doing another installment of 'Final Destination,' " he said. "It obviously really paid off." The movie also benefited from WB's overseas marketing clout, which New Line never had until it was brought into the Warners fold.  

Emmerich says New Line is now also planning a 3-D sequel for its "Friday the 13th" series which could be released as early as next summer, with August 13, 2010 (when Friday falls on the 13th) as a likely date. Like everyone else in Hollywood, he is eagerly anticipating the arrival of Jim Cameron's "Avatar," which should set a new benchmark for 3-D creativity and audience interest.

When I asked Emmerich if New Line could envision making a "Final Destination 5," he laughed. "Trust me," he said. "[Warners chief] Alan Horn just asked me the same question. 3-D is obviously making us look at a lot of our movie production decisions in a different way."  

 
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The FD filmmakers shot themselves in the face with a bazooka on their latest installment - by screwing up the 3-D gimmick with badly rendered CGI. You're screwed if the audience starts laughing *at* the screen instead of along with it.

I think if they want to make another installment and have the support of the horror communtity, they're gonna hafta come up with something along the lines of rumbling cinema seats, synthetic smoke, and the scent of blood piped in through the ventilation to gain any further interest.

A lesson perhaps, to Producers who look to CGI instead of practical effects: you're not there yet! Keep it 'real' or you lose your audience at the first sign of computer animated blood and exploding heads.

Funny enough, and with little to no knowledge of the movie, I have been strangely drawn to see it. The only thing stopping me is that my girlfriend wants to go to the movies too, and it is clearly not a "chick flick". They did something very right in the marketing of this....

Steve

The premise is a good one, just get a script that's decent for the next movie. You made a lot of money on a movie that shouldn't have made money, so invest a little in some decent writing talent and make the next installment a solid addition to the franchise.

Great, you can still sell old tired movie concepts- just add 3-d!!!!

Wow, I cannot believe it made so much money! But then again, this was the first FD that I saw in theaters myself. I ignored the terrible reviews [39% on www.moviereviewintelligence.com] because I wanted to see the 3D mayhem. And you know, I did have a good time watching it. I don't ever want to see it again, but I'm glad I saw it in 3D because that was the entire fun of it.

It was better than Final Destination Part 3. Mindelss 3D fun while you eat popcorn.

Mindless that is! LOL

"The Final Destination" truly is the worst in the series and the fact that there is going to be yet another one shows you how inept the filmmakers are by re-titling this film "THE Final Destination" literally weeks before it was released.

The story is literally a carbon copy of the first three, and "writer" Eric Bress doesn't add one single original or creative idea to the mess which is so odd since it is ripe for new ideas: why do these people have these visions in the first place? Why only at that time? Why them specifically?

And director David Ellis, who directed the second film in the series, seems to have forgot how to stage an action scene that is exciting or memorable.

And the cheap CGI effects were so laughably terrible, there was absolutely no tension or excitement or anything in the movie. NEVER use CGI for gore effects from the ground up - only use them to enhance real make-up, prosthetics and blood.

I wish I would have had a vision of how bad "The Final Destination" was and would have avoided seeing it - and saved my life!

Talk about burying the lede... The reason this installment has made so much more money is not the 3D, it's the Warners International distro. The North American numbers are not up nearly as much as the foreign take is. Also, I suspect most of the international territories did not necessarily release in 3D, for what it's worth.

My friend and I created a spoof to the Final Destination 4 movie on youtube, it's created a lot of views. youtube: FINAL DESTINATION 4 SPOOF.

 
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