Friday The 13th Writer Wins Lawsuit Against Producers

Jason in Friday the 13th
(Image credit: (Paramount Pictures))

The horror genre has been making quite the nostalgic comeback, and with it some familiar yet terrifying characters have started making a triumphant return as well. In 2017, IT's Pennywise the Clown brought chills and soon Halloween's Michael Myers will once again thrill audiences. But when will Friday the 13th's Jason Voorhees haunt the screen once more? The hockey-masked killer last made an appearance in the 2009 reboot and in a 2017 video game. However, all has been eerily quiet concerning the Friday the 13th franchise otherwise, but there's a good reason why.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, original screenplay writer of the 1980 cult classic Victor Miller and the original film's director Sean Cunningham along with other producers, have been in a creative rights battle which has halted new developments for the franchise. After almost a year, decision has been made in favor of Miller, who is now anticipated to control rights within the domestic market. When the 78-year-old writer attempted to reclaim ownership, per a law allowing authors to retrieve their rights after 35 years of publishing, the producers filed a suit in response. They claimed that although Miller wrote the screenplay, he was commissioned under the creative control of Sean Cunningham and the other producers of the film who came up with the original Friday the 13th idea.

The court battle between the filmmakers of the original Friday the 13th film certainly seems like a nasty one, but a decision has been made. Technically the suit is not completely over and done with, since the two parties still have a dispute over the character of "Jason". The recent ruling did not make a decision about who would have rights to Jason, detailing that an entirely different case should be made concerning the trademark. While Victor Miller created a Jason character in the 1980 film, the producers maintain that the Jason in the sequels is a different person.

The suit explains why we haven't seen too much from the franchise in recent years and considering the ongoing dispute, it's unclear how and when the Friday the 13th franchise will proceed. While Victor Miller wrote the screenplay for the first film, he has had minimal involvement in the rest of the 11 films in the franchise. Sean Cunningham and his producer colleagues have been attached to some of the other installments. For example, Cunningham was producer of 2009 reboot and the 2003 horror crossover Freddy vs. Jason.

Last year, a 1980's-set reboot was in the works, but it was cancelled due to several factors. With a decision now made over creative ownership of the property, Victor Miller may have plans for the 13th film of the franchise. Horror fans hungry for the kind of successful comeback Pennywise and Michael Myers have had the chance for, will likely be looking to see Jason next.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.