This was one of the last films to be theatrically released by New Line Cinema until it was merged with its sister studio Warner Bros.
College student Nick O'Bannon attends a race at the McKinley Speedway with his girlfriend Lori Milligan and their friends Hunt Wynorski and Janet Cunningham. Nick suddenly has a premonition of a terrible accident that sends debris into the stadium, killing several people and causing the stadium to collapse. In his panic, Nick inadvertently starts an argument with Andy Kewzer. Andy and his girlfriend Nadia Monroy, as well as racist Carter Daniels (who demands his wife stay) chase Nick and his friends out of the stadium, along with mother Samantha Lane, her children, and security guard George Lanter. When the accident occurs, George prevents Carter from going in after his wife and a scuffle ensues. As she is yelling at the group, Nadia is suddenly decapitated by a tire flying out of the stadium.
Several days after the disaster, Carter tries to set a cross ablaze on George's front lawn blaming him for preventing him from saving his wife, but a chain of events causes his tow truck to start driving on its own and as Carter tries to regain control, he is grabbed by the towing chain and is blown up by his truck catching fire with the very gas he was using. The following day, Samantha is finishing up at a beauty parlor when a rock propelled by a lawn mower suddenly impales her eye and kills her. After reading about the events in the paper, Nick becomes convinced that Death is coming after them for evading their fates at the stadium. Hunt and Janet are dubious, but they manage to convince George about what is happening. The group arrives to warn Andy, but he is killed when a tank, propelled by a chain reaction from a faulty winch launches him through a chain link fence. After receiving a premonition involving water, Nick tries to warn Hunt, who has gone for one last conquest at the pool, while George and Lori try to find Janet, who becomes immobilized in a malfunctioning car wash. Hunt drops his lucky coin in the water after an accidental placement of a toy turned the pool's drain on. As he dives into the pool, he is pulled down to the drain where the pressure mounts, and his insides are eventually ripped into the draining system before Nick can rescue him. George and Lori rescue Janet from the car wash at the last second. Afterwards, George admits to having tried to commit suicide due to his family being killed in a car accident the year before that he believes was his fault, but every suicide attempt has failed. Lori believes saving Janet must have saved the rest of them from Death's plan and the group celebrates instead.
Four days later, Nick then remembers a cowboy, Jonathan Groves, they had jeered at during the race who had changed seats prior to the premonition coming true. Nick and George track Jonathan down at a hospital, where he remained in traction recovering from the stadium's debris. After a bathtub left on in the floor above causes Johnathan's electric equipment to start sparking, falling from his bed and trying to cross the room, Nick and George witness him being crushed as the tub crashes through the weakened floor. Afterward, George is suddenly obliterated by a speeding ambulance and Nick realizes that Janet and Lori are still in danger. Tracking them down to a movie at the mall, Nick successfully saves Lori, but insistent that her life is no longer in danger, Janet remains as a chain reaction behind the theater causes an explosion and kills her. A multitude of explosions race Nick and Lori through the mall until they are trapped on a malfunctioning escalator and Lori is slowly dragged into the gears and killed. This is revealed to be a premonition, but in current time, Nick again fails to save George.
At the mall, Lori begins seeing omens of death around her, but Janet convinces her to shrug it off. Having failed in his premonition, Nick runs back stage to stop the explosion. He is pinned down by a nail gun that activates itself as he tries to stop the fire from spreading to explosive materials. Nick activates the fire suppression system, successfully stopping the explosion and saving everyone. Two weeks later, Nick notices a loose stabilizer in scaffolding while heading to their favourite hangout "Death by Caffeine" and warns the construction worker about it, who fails to hear him. While talking with Lori and Janet, he comes up with the theory that his omens were red herrings meant to get them in the right place at the right time for Death to kill them. Just as he realizes this and sees another omen, the scaffolding outside collapses causing a truck to swerve and crash into the coffee shop. As the scene switches to x-ray Janet is crushed under the truck's tires, Lori is internally decapitated by the impact, and Nick is propelled into a wall and killed.For more details on the characters, see List of Final Destination characters.
After the success of Final Destination 3, which was initially planned to be in 3D, Eric Bress wrote a script, which impressed producer Craig Perry and Warner Bros. enough to green-light a fourth installment. James Wong was on board to direct, but because of scheduling conflicts with Dragonball Evolution, he decided to drop out. Consequently, the studio executives opted for David R. Ellis to return because of his work on Final Destination 2. He accepted because of the 3D. For the 3D, Perry said that he wanted it to add depth to the film instead of just "something pop[ping] out at the audience every four minutes."
Although shooting was to be done in Vancouver, which was where the previous three films were shot, David R. Ellis convinced the producers to shoot in New Orleans instead to bring business to the city, and because the budget was already large. The opening crash sequence at "McKinley Speedway" was filmed at Mobile International Speedway in Irvington, Alabama. Filming began in March 2008 and ended in late May in the same year. Reshoots were done in April 2009 at Universal Studios Florida.
The soundtrack album was released on August 25, 2009, three days before the film's theatrical release, under public record label JVC/Sony Music Australia. The album consists of 23 cues composed and mixed by Brian Tyler. He took over scoring the series after the untimely death of the composer for the first three films, Shirley Walker.Commercial songs from film, but not on soundtrack
"Devour" by Shinedown
"How the Day Sounds" by Greg Laswell
"Burning Bridges" by Anvil
"Why Can't We Be Friends?" by War
"Don't You Know" by Ali Dee and the Deekompressors
"Faraway" by Dara Schindler
"Dream of Me" by Perfect
"Make My" by The Roots
"The Stoop" by Little Jackie
"Sweet Music" by Garrison Hawk
"Corona and Lime" by Shwayze
"Make You Crazy" by Brett Dennen
The CD features the score composed by Brian Tyler, omitting commercially released songs that were featured in the film.U.S. edition
- "The Final Destination" – 2:56
- "The Raceway" – 3:07
- "Memorial" – 2:46
- "Nailed" – 3:22
- "Nick's Google Theory" – 1:30
- "Revelations" – 2:28
- "Raceway Trespass" – 1:39
- "Stay Away from Water" – 2:38
- "Flame On" – 1:43
- "Moment of Joy" – 1:17
- "Signs and Signals" – 2:51
- "George Is Next" – 1:12
- "Car Washicide" – 3:05
- "Newspaper Clues" – 1:57
- "Premonition" – 1:50
- "The Salon" – 3:53
- "Questioning" – 1:04
- "Death of a Cowboy" – 2:08
- "Gearhead" – 1:56
- "Sushi for Everyone" – 2:53
- "The Movie Theater" – 3:03
- "You Can't Dodge Fate" – 1:28
- "The Final Destination Suite" – 13:29
The soundtrack attracted generally favorable reviews. Christian Clemmensen of Filmtracks.com gave the score 3 out of 5 stars and felt Tyler was "capable [...] to further explore new stylistic territory while making substantial use of the structures and tone of [predecessor composer] Shirley Walker's music." His approach to the scores were called "intelligent", and provide "adequate if not strikingly overachieving recordings is testimony to his immense talents."
The reviewers were also impressed with the extension of the sound used by Walker in Final Destination 3. "It relates to an affection for Walker's contribution to the industry," said an unnamed critic.
A SoundNotes reviewer grades the film with an impressive score of 7.5/10, remarking "Brian Tyler slugs his way through the inadequacies of The Final Destination and produces a score with reasonable entertainment value and enough of an appeal to make it function well apart from the woeful film."
The film was released in 3D as well as in conventional theaters on August 28, 2009. It was initially planned for an August 14 release. It was also the first 3D film to feature D-BOX motion feedback technology in select theaters.
According to USA Today and Newsday, The Final Destination debuted at the top of the North American box office, beating Rob Zombie's Halloween II, earning $28.3 million during its first weekend. It is also topped the box office in the UK. The film remained #1 at the box office in North America for two weeks. On September 11, 2009, it gained just over a million dollars and dropped to No. 7. The film grossed $66.4 million domestically and $119.3 million in foreign sales, with a total of $186.5 million worldwide.
The Final Destination was initially scheduled for a DVD and Blu-ray Disc release on December 22, 2009. The film was pushed back to January 5, 2010 in the US. Both the DVD and Blu-ray Disc included two pairs of 3D glasses with each set and featured a 2D version on the disc, along with additional scenes. Only the Blu-ray Disc version included two alternate endings, a "making of" featurette about the deaths, storyboard visualization and a preview of A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010). The Blu-ray Disc release, also a combo pack, includes a standard DVD of the film.
In Target stores, some of the DVDs included an exclusive Final Destination comic book.
The movie was released uncut in Australian theaters with an MA15+ (Strong horror violence, sex scene) rating. When the movie's DVD/Blu-ray Disc release was reviewed, the ACB (Australian Classification Board) noted several scenes in the 2D version that exceeded the guidelines of the MA15+ category. There were two editions released in Australia: a DVD version which only contains a censored 2D version (most of the blood effects taken off and gore trimmed) and a DVD release awarded an R18+ rating (High impact violence) with both uncensored 2D and 3D versions (and 3D glasses included). The covers between the two releases vary.
The film received generally negative reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 29% of 95 critics gave the film a positive review, with a rating average of 4.2 out of 10. The site's consensus is: "With little of the ingenuity of previous installments, The Final Destination is predictable, disposable horror fare." Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 0–100 reviews from film critics, has a rating score of 30 based on 14 reviews.