There’s no telling when we’ll see another Friday the 13th movie in theaters, as the legal battle over the rights to the series has been reinstated. After reviewing a lawsuit against Victor Miller, the screenwriter of the original movie, a judge ruled in favor of the writer over franchise owner Sean Cunningham. In response, Cunningham and production company Horror Inc. appealed the decision, only to retract it for technical reasons. They were given a due date of April 12 to reinstate the appeal, and Cunningham’s legal team reportedly met the deadline. Unless the two sides are able to agree upon a settlement amount in the near future, this will keep Jason out of theaters indefinitely, as no studio is going to begin production on a new movie until the legalities are officially sorted out.
The chain of events that led us to this point began in 2016, when Victor Miller pursued a copyright law provision which allows him to reclaim the rights to the original screenplay he wrote now that 35 years have passed. Cunningham, who directed the original movie, sued Miller in response. It was argued that Miller’s script was written on a work-for-hire basis, and that the writer isn’t entitled to any additional profits. After the case languished in court, a judge ruled in favor of Miller. Negotiations between both sides about a possible settlement do not seem to have progressed, given the recent appeal filed by Cunningham to keep the battle going.
Released in 1980, the original Friday the 13th took place at a summer camp known as Camp Crystal Lake. As the camp counselors began preparing for the summer prior to the camp’s opening, an unseen assailant starts picking them off one by one. The killer is revealed to be a woman who identifies herself as Mrs. Voorhees, who used to work at the camp as a cook. Because her son Jason (presumably) drowned due to the counselors not paying attention, the grieving mother kills the new counselors to ensure that the campgrounds stay closed. It wasn’t until Friday the 13th Part 2 when Jason himself began killing people, but the character would still not exist had it not been for Miller’s original screenplay.
Until we can see an official movie hit theaters, fans are taking it upon themselves to make their own Jason movies. The fan film Never Hike Alone is currently in the midst of its second Blu-ray campaign on Indiegogo, with a high demand calling for more copies to be produced. Additionally, other fan films like Friday the 13th: Vengeance and Voorhees are in the works, with lots of fan excitement surrounding each project. Jason is perhaps more popular than ever, and fan-made movies such as these will help keep the spirit of the character alive.
With legal battles as ugly as the one between Cunningham and Miller, it’s hard to know exactly when everything will be resolved. It has now been ten years since there’s been a Friday the 13th movie in theaters, and fans are hungrier now more than ever for another installment. There’s a lot of money to be made by producing another movie, so hopefully a settlement can be reached soon for the betterment of the franchise and the enjoyment of the fans. This information comes to us from THR’s Eriq Gardner on Twitter.
No settlement in “Friday the 13th” rights dispute. Appeal has been reinstated. Background: https://t.co/c5wlNHaOtUpic.twitter.com/nStItYITDn
— Eriq Gardner (@eriqgardner) April 12, 2019