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FINAL DESTINATION 3

About The Production
When your number's up, it's up!

"I think the idea of fate has always been in people's heads. Are we fated to meet the one we marry? How will we die? These are questions that everyone's thought about,” says director James Wong, who with producer Glen Morgan, wrote the screenplay for Final Destination 3, as well as the original Final Destination which was released in 2000 (Final Destination 2 was released in 2002).

Producer Craig Perry, who has shepherded all three films in the franchise, believes that it is this human curiosity about life and death that gives the films their broad appeal. "I think the whole franchise taps into the common fears we all have about dying,” he says. "It addresses questions like, ‘What if I die today? How is it going to happen? Can I stop it? Have I done something that might actually be facilitating my death?'” 

The audience comes to observe the inner workings of life and death from a safe distance - and then is challenged to leave these weighty issues behind in the theatre.

"We did a preview for Final Destination 2, which has a terrible elevator sequence in which a woman's head gets corkscrewed off,” Perry explains. "A bunch of kids were actually waiting for the elevator to go down to the parking lot after the movie. The elevator doors opened, closed, and then half-opened again. The kids all looked at each other, said ‘Screw that,' and headed for the stairs! For me that was a great moment. It meant that the movie had worked because those kids were scared to death of a real elevator!”

Matching, or ideally exceeding, the nailbiting thrills of the opening sequences of the first two films was the first hurdle filmmakers faced. New Line production executive Richard Brener came up with the idea of staging the opening disaster aboard a roller coaster.

Over the course of several cold spring nights in Vancouver, this valiant group of young actors rode the coaster from sun-down to sun-rise, 20-25 times each night.

"I'm a thrill junkie,” says 22-year-old Ryan Merriman, who plays Kevin. "I love roller coasters, so after 17 times it was still cool. It got challenging – you get a little woozy and it's kind of like having a hangover.”

Mary Elizabeth Winstead adds, "The roller coaster at first was just so much fun because it was something that I haven't really done since I was a kid. It was an adrenaline rush and it really wasn't too bad until probably the 13th time around when I started getting a really strange feeling in my head. But I was proud of myself. I didn't throw up. None of us did.”.

The roller coaster sequence that opens the film is the most complex of all the Final Destination opening sequence disasters. In order to achieve the desired effect, the filmmakers shot coverage of the cast riding the actual roller coaster; soundstage coverage using a replica coaster housed in an enormous set with tracks extending 30 feet up to the ceiling; green-screen elements of the cast doing their own stunt work; and finally, visual effects shots to augment reality and go where no human body can. 

Finding a roller coaster to match the one that James Wong and Glen Morgan envisioned in their script proved impossible. "If you're going to crash a roller coaster, the best possible scenario is to crash the roller coaster,” says visual effects supervisor Ariel Shaw. "Since that wasn't an option, we extrapolated elements to build our digital model from the roller coaster in Vancouver where we planned to shoot, as well as another roller coaster in California. We combined these two coasters and then added other pieces. So now we have this ‘Franken-coaster' that's pretty cool, but it still doesn't satiate all of the beats that are in Jim and Glen's script. The script describes a 250 ft. climb and then a corkscrew drop – then another climb almost as high as the first one, so we mad

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