With so many franchises being rebooted these days it’s almost like half of Hollywood is just in an arms race around who can adapt something that came before. That’s why, at this point, it’s almost odd when a popular series, franchise, or character *doesn’t* get the reboot treatment. It can’t be that folks just forgot about it, far from it. Again, almost every old title is finding new life. In the case of Friday the 13th, a horror franchise that you think we would have seen rebooted already, it’s because legal action had killed (pun intended) the chance of seeing a new take on the story. But that piece took a major turn this week.
What had held up any chances of getting a Friday the 13th movie was a pending lawsuit and subsequent appeal from the original movie’s screenwriter Victor Miller against director Sean S. Cunningham and his production outfit The Manny Company. As with most litigious action like this, things boiled down to who actually owned the rights, and subsequently the profits, from future Friday the 13th films. Since the movie came out more than 35 years ago, Miller was citing a copyright law that would shift the title back to the original author. But Cunningham was having none of that, contending that Miller penned the script as part of an original contract, meaning he didn’t get the retain the future rights. What a mess this was.
That changed on Thursday. In a somewhat surprising ruling, considering the timing, Victor Miller was given the domestic rights to Friday the 13th. The main sticking point in the lawsuit wasn’t whether Miller had penned the original movie’s script. That much was certain. The difference in legal opinions was how he was hired to do so. If he was a hired employee of the Manny Company then the rights would belong to the employer. If Miller was an independent contractor, as he claimed, then enough time had passed from the original movie that he would be able to take back the rights. Check out the ruling:
There had been extreme pessimism over whether this case around Friday the 13th would be solved in anything like a reasonable timeline. It wasn’t looking good. An astute Redditor, /CrotalusAtrox1 was able to sum up why this particular case concerning Friday the 13th could be a little different than other ones we’ve seen in this realm. The prospects for getting another movie in the form of a reboot are looking pretty slim thanks to a couple of different pieces of legal logistics.
As Bloody Disgusting points out, this doesn’t mean we are going to see a Friday the 13th movie getting fast-tracked to the screen anytime soon. There are still legalities around different versions of the Jason Voorhees character that need to get ironed out. Plus, they make a good point that just having the domestic rights and not the international could mean that a big-budget movie wouldn’t be in the cards right away without being able to fully capture a bigger box office number. But it is a good sign.
It’s not been more than 12 years since the last Friday the 13th movie. It was a 2009 reboot of the franchise that turned a tidy $92.7 million dollars at the box office on its $19 million budget. Sure, critics panned it, but that was never really the point of the slasher series. What’s exciting is that it looks like we’ve taken the first step to getting the hockey-masked Jason back into our lives and in a reboot-heavy environment, there would be plenty of takers for this story. Time will tell what is next for this franchise, but things might be looking up.