‘Friday the 13th’ lawsuit officially over but not yet resolved, sources say
As Friday the 13th fans are well aware by now, the ongoing legal battle between Horror Inc. and Victor Miller prohibits the manufacturing and release of Jason Vorhees content until the dust has settled.
For some background, before the original 1980 release, Paramount Pictures claimed the rights to Friday the 13th. However, it eventually sold the property and its attributes to New Line Cinema. The rights are now in the hands of the original film producer and director Sean S. Cunningham, representing Horror Inc. Victor Miller, the writer of the original screenplay, evoked a copyright law to get the rights to his script back.
Simply put, Miller hinges his chances on the fact that, by law, an author who sells the copyright to their work can formally request a reversion of those rights (to get their copyright back) after 35 years have lapsed. From 1980 to 2021, more than 35 years have passed, so Miller can appeal to reclaim those rights ⏤ and has.
As reported by Comicbook.com, the Friday the 13th lawsuit has reportedly ended but has yet to be resolved entirely. Larry Zerner, the lawyer representing Victor Miller, portrayed Shelly Finkelstein in Friday the 13th Part III. He recently tweeted in regards to the lawsuit, informing followers of the current situation and providing a definitive update.
Zerner tweeted: “It’s 4 pm and I still don’t see a cert petition filed with the Supreme Court in the Friday the 13th case. What does this mean? Well, it means the case is officially over and Victor Miller owns the rights to his screenplay in F13 (but only in the US).” He continued to expand on that court decision, saying: “Does this mean that the parties have settled or are close to settling (and a new movie is forthcoming)? Not necessarily, it could just mean that Sean Cunningham realized that a cert petition was a real longshot and didn’t want to waste his money.”
For audiences who are wondering when the next Friday the 13th film will begin production, that answer is lengthy and complicated. Overall, the lawsuit is messy. Miller may have won the rights to the original screenplay and Cunningham can’t legally use the Jason Vorhees character in the cinematic franchise without Miller’s permission.
To clarify more coherently, Zerner made this statement: “Can Victor and Sean just each make their own separate movies? Not really, because Victor only owns US rights and only to the first script and Sean owns adult, hockey mask-wearing Jason but can’t legally use him in a movie without Victor’s permission. It’s complicated.”
Hopefully, there will be more developments in the future, but until then, fans will be forced to await further news on a true settlement between Victor Miller and Sean S. Cunningham.