The Friday the 13th franchise was one of the pillars of 80s slasher horror. While none of the films were technically “good,” they did strike a chord with audiences who wanted to see sex and violence on the big screen. The series has remained dormant since 2009’s Friday the 13th reboot, but recent hints have suggested the series is ready for a comeback.
Hollywood producer, Roy Lee, recently teased the franchises return on the podcast, Bloody Disgusting:
Not much to go on, but it’s more than fans have had in years.
Why The Franchise Has Been Dormant
There has been a legal battle for the better part of a decade over the rights to the franchise. The two culprits are Sean S. Cunningham, the director of the original film and a producer of its several sequels, and Victor Miller, the writer of the first film. The copyright dispute is over who owns the original script. The result of the case affected who can use the iconic hockey mask in the future.
A court sided will Miller and so he has the rights to the original script and characters associated with that film. An appeals court recently upheld Miller’s ruling.
The U.S. Congress lengthened the term for copyrights in 1976 and since then has allowed creators of big projects an avenue to seize control of intellectual properties away from producers and studios. That is why Cunningham, who also represents a group of investors, is struggling in the courts.
This protection only extends to independent contractors, not full-time employees. The court concluded that Miller was a contract worker on the first film.
Miller controls the script and characters from the original film, but not the title “Friday the 13th,” nor anything from the many sequels. This includes the most iconic parts of the franchise including adult Jason and his mask (which was introduced in the third film).
If Miller tries to make a Friday the 13th film with an adult Jason, Cunningham is willing to fight.
U.S. copyright law, however, doesn’t apply in foreign markets. Those rights still rest with Cunningham and the original investors. This is problematic for Miller who would have to convince a studio to produce a film that can only be distributed in the U.S. without an adult Jason with his mask.
What this means for the franchise is unknown, but Roy Lee’s comments give us some hope. It may be a reboot film that takes adult Jason to a new locale. Who knows?
But again, things are complicated. Miller’s 1979 agreement with Cunningham gave him a partial stake in worldwide rights. Miller’s lawyer believes that this will be held up in court.
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