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We are in an age of reboots, remakes and long-awaited sequels and nowhere is that more apparent than the horror genre, where horror icons like Pennywise, Michael Myers and Chucky all have or will soon return to cinema screens. One icon that hasn’t yet returned is Jason from the Friday the 13th franchise. That’s because the property has been embroiled in a legal battle, one that is a nightmare, as original Friday the 13th writer Victor Miller explained:
Everybody’s trying to settle all the little things and dot the I’s, get the semicolons where they belong, and all that kind of stuff. Who gets what. Who has to give what to whom. So, to me, it’s a nightmare. If you’ve got two sides across the table… this is poker. And you don’t get to say, ‘Well I’ll take half the money and you take half the money.’ That’s not how it works. I can’t be more specific than that.
Sure, a hockey-masked weirdo chasing you with a machete is not great fun, but sitting in a room with a bunch of lawyers hashing out rights issues in legalese, that’s the real stuff of nightmares. Right now the complex ownership rights to who owns what and where when it comes to Friday the 13th are still being sorted out. As Victor Miller told YouTuber IAnthonyD, it’s not as simple as just saying that each side takes half and that makes the whole thing a nightmare.
Victor Miller won his lawsuit against original Friday the 13th director Sean Cunningham and other producers last year, thanks to a copyright law that allows authors to retrieve ownership rights to their work after 35 years. But that legal victory was just the beginning.
There is still the possibility that the case will be appealed, but as of now, the victory means that Victor Miller will have the domestic rights to Friday the 13th and Sean Cunningham will have them internationally. So the rights and profit split for any new projects using this property or its characters will have to be figured out.
This lawsuit is part of the reason why we haven’t had a new Friday the 13th movie in a decade. And if Sean Cunningham's side appeals, the can will only get kicked further down the road. If he doesn’t appeal and decides to share the property with Victor Miller, the two sides will still have to come to a settlement for how the profits and rights will all work going forward.
Victor Miller also told IAnthonyD that he would love to be more involved in the franchise in the future, but that is just one of the things that will have to be resolved through the nightmarish legal battle currently going on. He’s not the only one that is interested in doing something with Friday the 13th, either.
These kinds of rights issues seem to be rather prevalent in the horror genre. The Child’s Play franchise has them, Scream has them, and we recently heard that although Blumhouse made the Halloween reboot-quel, the production company does not yet have the rights to do a sequel. It’s all, in horror appropriate fashion, a bloody mess.
We’ll keep you updated as the ongoing legal saga of Friday the 13th develops. In the meantime, check out our 2019 Release Schedule to keep track of everything headed to theaters this year.