Jon Watts is courting death and hoping to get away with it.
The director behind the record-breaking Spider-Man: No Way Home, has joined the creative team behind New Line’s relaunch of its Grand Guignol horror franchise Final Destination.
Watts has boarded the project, titled simply Final Destination 6, as a producer. He also wrote the treatment and story for what will be an HBO Max original release. Lori Evans Taylor (Bed Rest) and Guy Busick, who wrote Ready or Not and worked on the upcoming Scream reboot, are now writing the screenplay.
Watts joins a producing team that includes Destination franchise producer and steward Craig Perry and franchise veteran Sheila Hanahan Taylor. Dianne McGunigle, Watts’ wife and manager, is also joining the producing team.
Destination was a surprise hit franchise for New Line in the early 2000s, with a concept that proved easy to transfer from movie to movie, locale to locale, victim to unwitting victim. Each movie centered on a character who has a premonition of a horrific and deadly event, cheats his or her own death, and saves several other lives in the process, only to have Death, as a personified but unstoppable force, come for the survivors one by one.
The first movie was directed by James Wong and starred Devon Sawa and Ali Larter, making $112 million worldwide on a $23 million budget. Four more installments followed through 2011, earning almost $700 million worldwide to date. It is New Line’s third-biggest horror franchise, coming in behind the $2 billion-plus generated by The Conjuring universe of movies and $1 billion-plus by the two It movies.
The company has attempted to restart the franchise previously, and in 2019 hired Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, who wrote four Saw movies, to pen a script.
Watts is known for helming the Tom Holland-starring Spider-Man movies for Sony and Marvel, with the latest, No Way Home, released Dec. 13, defying pandemic gravity to become the sixth-highest-grossing film of all time domestically and eight-highest-grossing worldwide at over $1.53 billion and counting. No Way Home netted the second-highest domestic opening in history and passed $1 billion worldwide in just over a week.
Watts is repped by CAA and Johnson Shapiro. Taylor is repped by ICM Partners, Kaplan/Perrone and McKuin Frankel, while Busick is repped by A3 Artists Agency, Gotham Group and Jackoway Austen.