Friday The 13th Franchise Now Caught Up In Another Legal Battle

Friday the 13th

Things used to be so simple. You’d get a bunch of young and pretty actors, mix up a couple of buckets of fake blood, make sure Kane Hodder is free for a few weeks and – boom – you’ve got yourself a Friday the 13th movie. Sadly, however, Jason Voorhees’ cinematic rampage has been curtailed by a force more tenacious and single-minded than he could ever be: lawyers.

The franchise has been stuck in legal limbo ever since original screenwriter Victor Miller launched a claim for the rights from Horror Inc.’s Sean Cunningham. Back in 2018, the courts ruled in favor of Miller, though this was challenged on appeal and a final decision has not been made.

Now, another lawsuit has hit the franchise, with Cunningham taking New Line, Paramount and Warner Bros. to court over unpaid profits. In his claim (which you can read here), Cunningham accuses the studios of engaging in the notorious practice of ‘Hollywood accounting,’ whereby those promised a percentage of the ‘net profit’ of a movie fail to see anything after creative sums mean a successful film technically never made any money.

The most famous example of this is probably The Lord of the Rings pics, which New Line claimed were “horrendous losses” for the company. This resulted in successful legal action against the studio from the Tolkien trust, as by that time they’d made almost $3 billion and the films were noted as some of the highest-grossing movies of all time.

Cunningham says a similar thing happened with Friday the 13th (2009), which had a budget of $19 million and earned $129 million. His suit alleges that the defendants underreported revenues for the movie in order to give the impression that the film had not passed its “breakeven point,” meaning anyone with points on the net profit is getting a big fat zero.

The law is fairly well established on this, so my prediction is that the studios will settle out of court with Cunningham rather than see it go to trial. Even so, it’s likely to delay the return of the Friday the 13th even more, and it’s already been 11 long years since we last saw Jason hack up a stoned teenager. Oh well, at least fans are stepping up to fill the gap.