An odd thing happened in Hollywood recently. "The Final Destination," the fourth and most critically reviled entry in that horror series (according to RottenTomatoes), earned more than $182 million in worldwide box office sales against a budget of roughly $40 million. It was a completely unexpected turnaround for the flagging franchise, one that even left New Line execs feeling baffled. Of course, understanding isn't necessary to greenlight a sequel, and a fifth "Final Destination" movie is now moving forward.
The fifth iteration's script was written by Eric Heisserer, who is also writing the upcoming remake of John Carpenter's "The Thing" and who penned another recently released film, the "Nightmare on Elm Street" remake. It was recently reported that a trio of newcomer filmmakers were in the running, but now, according to The Hollywood Reporter, one has emerged at the top: Steven Quale, who worked as the second unit director on "Avatar."
For those who aren't familiar with Hollywood gigs, the second unit director has a very difficult job. While the director and actors shoot full scenes to create, in essence, the core framework for the movie, the second unit is instead tasked with capturing less important moments, shots that do not require the stars to be present: establishing/scenery shots, close-ups and the like. It's less demanding in the sense that you're not working to extract a great performance from your actors, but you also don't have any narrative continuity to work with. Second units have a guideline to work with, but a great director will be able to visualize the finished product in advance, the better to capture the right sequence of shots to fill out the film.
I think this background is going to serve Quale very well on the set of the fifth "Final Destination." This is a series which rests the weight of its success or failure on a clever visual execution. For those who don't know, the basic conceit of each movie follows a group of teenagers who, by chance, escape death. A serious of elaborate kills then follows as the universe sets itself right when fate catches up to the doomed teens.
Quale's work with Cameron extends all the way back to his work as a production assistant on 1989 releasse "The Abyss." He then went on to fill second unit duties on "Titanic," "The Haunted Mansion" and "Avatar," as well as sharing a director credit with Cameron on the undersea documentary "Aliens of the Deep."
Really, Quale and Heisserer make a mighty team. There's a lot of potential here in their respective backgrounds and future plans. Regardless of the success of "The Final Destination," there are few who will try to argue that the series hasn't lost its magic. It has, and this writer/director team-up could be the breath of fresh air it needs.
What do you readers think? Does this team-up renew your hope for the franchise? Is this a ship that should be allowed to sink? What do you think of Quale's and Heisserer's past work?