Looming Legal Battle Surrounding Friday The 13th Threatens To Tear The Franchise Asunder

Knowing that the franchise has been on ice since 2009, it certainly did nothing to lift the spirits of longtime fans of Friday the 13th upon hearing that the long gestating re-reboot had been scrapped earlier this year. And although bumps in the road are to be expected in this industry, we always take solace in knowing that it’s only a matter of time before a horror icon such as Jason Voorhees graces cinemas once again.

Well, that is until you come across news like this, which feels about as great as a machete to the gut.

Now, I’m no big city lawyer, but the details presented by The Hollywood Reporter are nothing short of disturbing. So, here’s the long and short of it: Back in the 1970’s, U.S. Congress amended copyright law by allowing authors or their heirs to terminate a grant of rights and reclaim ownership. As luck would have it, Victor Miller, screenwriter of the original Friday the 13th, has elected to do just that and take back the rights to the franchise.

Upon reading this, you might think that’s not too terrifying and that another studio will just pick up the ball and run with it. Unfortunately, matters become evermore complicated as THR warns of the possibility of all future Friday the 13th films released in the United States having to be made without the character of Jason Voorhees. On the flip side, movies made under the Friday the 13th banner overseas can include him but are banned domestically.

How is this possible? Well, as THR puts it, it’s because Miller is “facing contentions from the 1980 film’s producer, Sean Cunningham, who says that Miller wrote Friday the 13th as a work-made-for-hire and has no ability to terminate.” It’s all a bit complicated, if we’re being honest, but you can dive into it in more detail via the link below.

Should this prophecy be fulfilled, it’s possible that we could see something more anthological akin to Halloween III: Season of the Witch, but one has to wonder if today’s moviegoers would even show up for a Friday the 13th flick lacking the masked mass murderer.