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The ‘Friday the 13th’ Rights Battle Heats Up

It’s all about perspective and a judge is free to wield a machete as he wishes in accordance with the law, explains THR.

With that, the rights to Friday the 13th and Jason Voorhees are in the midst a legal battle, which could end ugly for fans of the character and franchise.

The article at THR breaks down the filings and what each side is alleging, which is based around the idea of “work for hire” and where the concept for the film and character were created. Victor Miller, the original film’s scriptwriter, claims he wasn’t employed when he wrote the movie and thus is looking to terminate a grant of rights and reclaim ownership. In the 1970s, the U.S. Congress amended copyright law to allow this and Miller is looking to do exactly that.

While the full implications aren’t explained, the website theorizes this Friday the 13th horror story: The franchise is ripped apart. In the United States, new films in the canon are made but without the “Jason” character. Outside the country, other Friday the 13th sequels come — these with “Jason” — but are banned domestically.

If that sounds odd, it’s all possible thanks to the 1976 Copyright Act and what happens soon in a Connecticut federal court. Click the aforementioned links for all the legal mumbo-jumbo.


71 Comments
  • Necro

    I’ll call my lawyer first before reading the legal crap.

    • Munchie

      You’ve already signed all your rights away simply by clicking on this article.

  • Matthew Hutchinson

    Oh for the love of Pete, just create a new villain and call it a day already…

  • Darkknight2149

    If nothing comes of this legal battle, the rights reportedly revert from Paramount to New Line Cinema in 2018.

    • Ocelot006 .

      Is that a good thing though? WB wasnt willing to do anything with the franchise after ’09. They might just sit on it like they did before. Although they’ve been having success with The Conjuring and Annabelle and Lights Out and yada yada so maybe they’ll do something.

      • Darkknight2149

        Good point. Though, given how Paramount basically spent several years throwing ideas at a wall to see what stuck and the best they could come up with was the cancelled 2017 reboot (the leaked origin plot was awful), I’m hopeful for any other studio to get the rights. I just hope that Platinum Dunes isn’t involved in the new films.

        Maybe the new game will prompt New Line to go back to basics with the franchise. One can wish…

        • Barba

          Oh I’m IN LOVE with that game, despite all glitches and broken matchmaking… good call! I even got to watch all my old DVDs ‘cos I felt like that kid I was in the 80s again. Struggling for 3 days to finish Jason X on streaming tho…

        • Ocelot006 .

          I honestly liked the sound of the reboot they almost moved forward with. I mean unless anyone wants to send me the script to prove me wrong 😛

          I mean was it really that much different than what Bates Motel did with Norman Bates and the Psycho franchise? Obviously we are more forgiving of television but still. I mean maybe the reboot plot would have suited television better.

        • Bob Marshall

          Honestly if I were rich I’d buy the rights outright and then I’d team with ArieScope on new films.

    • Scott Baiowulfgang Amadeus

      If nothing changes the rights will go back to what they were before the “Interstellar” rights swap deal. Paramount had until the end of this year to make a movie while they had sole rights, since they have failed to do so, New Line will own Jason and Paramount will own Friday the 13th.

      • Khalil Wright

        Another Freddy VS Jason is abound then.

      • jasonlives1986

        If miller wins his case he owns the Friday title and while he won’t own the character as adult Jason it’s alot more fathomable to see him leasing new line the title than paramount who wants a piece of the whole pie.

        So the reality is we want miller to win this case.

        • Marc

          Actually he would own the characters in part 1 and kid jason. The title would stay with Cunningham because he thought of the title.

  • ScriptGiverrrr

    Mess. Let it die already.

  • Darkknight2149

    In the past, Jason has split from the “Friday the 13th” franchise due to the film rights. Paramount (who owned “Friday the 13th”) did the in-name-only “Friday the 13th: The Series”, while New Line (who owned Jason) did “Jason Goes to Hell”, “Jason X”, and “Freddy vs. Jason”. In 2009, both studios collaborated on the reboot. Years after, Paramount was given full control of the franchise in exchange for the partial rights to “Interstellar”.

    • sblast13

      Paramount started the TV series while they were still making the movies. Paramount kept the Friday title, but Sean was able to get pretty much everything else. Paramount were only given the rights back for a limited time period in exchange or helping out with Interstellar.

      • Darkknight2149

        Which is why the rights revert to New Line in 2018 (assuming the rights aren’t affected by the court dispute).

  • Wait it says if a movie is made in the USA, Jason can’t be in it. But he’s in the 2009 film?

    • Ocelot006 .

      That was in 2009. 2009 was eight years ago. Eight years before this possibility.

      • Shiz I figured not much would have changed since everything worked out okay back then.

        • ScriptGiverrrr

          Sigh.

        • Ocelot006 .

          Back then everything was okay. There was no lawsuit.

  • Francesco Falciani

    What a mess. We won’t have any f13th for another 30 years

  • WhistleBleepBlip

    Coming Soon…

    Sunday the 15th: The Awkening of Jerry Moorpees

  • Werewolf

    No big loss. All the studios would do is fuck it up anyway…like always.

    The originals will be found by new fans and re-watched just as we have re-watched them.

  • RKSDooM

    Well, not the best news for this special day, but still…

    A HAPPY 71ST BIRTHDAY TO JASON VOORHEES!

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b3d58b4ee097b0d44be63523c6ccc0b7a160a26e47d1ed2263044f35ea33d68c.jpg

  • James

    Oh victor miller just needs to piss off and move on.

    • jasonlives1986

      If miller owns the rights than you’ll see a movie far sooner than if new line owns it

      • Francesco Falciani

        if miler wins it will be impossible to make any future films. How? and where? it sounds stupid…no new line or paramount ould make a movie with that mess situation…a f13th without jason and a hockey mask??? i think the judge will kick miller in the ass and send him home without anything.

  • fannypack aficionado

    My entire media room is F13-themed, and even I no longer think a new movie is a good idea.

    • Judge Satchmo

      At first your post made me incredibly sad, but then I realized that my rec room is Jaws themed and I certainly don’t think any additions would be a good idea, so instead I think I completely understand you.

      • fannypack aficionado

        It hurt even writing, but the shit-show it became is its own best argument.

    • Creepshow

      Welp, it’s a wrap then. Fanny’s junk collection doesn’t approve.

      • Angela Campany

        😉

      • fannypack aficionado

        If anyone understood, I knew it would be you.

    • diapers

      Lets see some pics of the F13 media room! Might help to cheer us up!

  • Travis_Bickle

    As long as it prevents shitty sequels I am fine with it.

  • jasonlives1986

    Anything to get Cunningham away from the rights

    Dude sold his rights and somehow without ever really explaining got them back after part 8.

    I find it suspicious that paramount would hand these rights over after part 8 tanked like sean has claimed and yet there’s a legal battle over who owns the rights

    Sean only can lay claim to being the director or part 1. All the iconic stuff in the franchise was creatred outside his involvement.

    • Маразм Клинический

      Miller is not better, than Cunningham.

      • jasonlives1986

        Jason goes to he’ll and Jason x.

        Oh ya and that time he said “get that damn hockey mask off him”

        Guy totally knows what the fans wants

        • Маразм Клинический

          I do not defend Cunningham, he’s an old, greedy and frantic son of a bitch who spits on fans.

          My point is that Miller is not better, than him. Have you read at least one interview of this old scum Miller? He is absolutely against the idea of a hockey mask and Jason in sequels. He’s like a fucking fetishist focused on making Pamela and only Pamela the main character.

  • RKSDooM

    Everything I have ever read or heard about the making of the original FRIDAY THE 13TH indicated to me that Cunningham and co. had the idea for the movie and than hired Victor Miller to write it. Which, to me, is pretty much the definition of work for hire.

    So while I don’t doubt that Miller may be a better caretaker for the series than Cunningham has been, I really don’t see where he has a leg to stand on here.

  • Court

    So if Miller wins, then he owns the right to the name and characters from the first film. But that doesn’t mean they still can’t make another “JASON” film. New Line/WB will gain back the rights to adult Jason, which means we can still see JASON hack and slash, just not under a Friday the 13th title.

  • Yukka Flat

    I don’t want another Friday the 13th film. We had 8 of those already. I don’t mind Jason spin-off movies though like the last ones were pretty much. Friday 1-8 is contained Friday 1980s era story. The rest are just anthology films of Jason. So screw tha name,

    • darklordofgorgoroth

      You do know the next one would be part 13, right? I want it, simply for the sake of novelty

  • Rohan

    What about this: Pamela Voorhees comes back as the killer. It take place in he 40’s to 50’s, and includes Elias Voorhees and the original camp.

    • Маразм Клинический

      L A M E ! ! !

      • Rohan

        Well, ok. Not my fault people can’t just let a franchise be. Just trying to offer ideas on what could come from such a shitty outcome.

  • zomnombie

    Where was this in the linked article? “While the full implications aren’t explained, the website theorizes this Friday the 13th horror story: The franchise is ripped apart. In the United States, new films in the canon are made but without the “Jason” character. Outside the country, other Friday the 13th sequels come — these with “Jason” — but are banned domestically.” That does not seem to be mentioned at all. Where did this come from?

    • Ace Stephens

      It’s the opening paragraph.

  • Travis Ignaffo

    I find it kinda petty to be fighting over rights around 37 years later.

    • Ace Stephens

      He thinks he is owed the rights back after 35 years as that is the timeframe specified within the law. That’s the entire basis of this legal battle.

  • Jonny Angel

    Miller is a con man trying to get a quick buck . You wrote the script to the first movie and it was not even titled ” Friday the 13th ” You created or helped create a character that was a drowned dead boy named Jason .. Nothing more… You get shit you con

    • darklordofgorgoroth

      Thus Miller created Jason, by your own logic 😉

  • Francesco Falciani

    so if Miller winds , but also for Hollywood reporter doesn’t seem he could, New Line could use only the word Jason and make movie like they always did, with only Jason.. sounds impossible…and i don’t understand the Miller point, if he wins
    he won’t get money for future films ’cause it would be impossible to make new movies…

  • Bob Marshall

    Even if Miller wins they will just strike sone sort of deal so they can use Jason. End of the day it benefits Miller if he gas the rights to let them use the character.

  • Flu-Like Symptoms

    Just call the next film Jason Goes to Camp.

  • Raul Calvo

    It was the same when New Line began making F13 movies, they didn’t have the rights of the title “Friday the 13th”, they can only use Jason Voorhees. That’s why none of them has Friday the 13th in the title: Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, Jason X and Freddy vs Jason.

  • MadCows

    If this is how the franchise dies, it would be some fucked up shit. I hope to one day see Jason on the big screen again.

  • Who plays Friday the 13th online?
    Add me on PSN: pedrojamess and let’s get killed together 🙂

    • thegreatiandi

      I’m thinking about buying it….Is it any good? More importantly…Is the network issues as bad as I’m reading???

      • It’s the Pokemon Go of this year, I mean the game is very repetitive but it’s so addictive… I played 6h yesterday!
        The network issues are getting better, fortunately.

  • Jeremy Scott

    Who gives a fuck, not like any of the new movies will capture the magic of a bygone era, we have the new video game that comes pretty close and is fun. I can do without more Jason movies, hell I just watch the old ones anyway.

    • Insaneindamembwane

      I agree. No matter what they do it won’t ever be great again like the originals. That era is gone as are the feathered hairdo’s and tight ass bell bottoms. In my opinion, Jason isn’t what made Friday the 13th great anyways, it was the crazy characters and their dialogue. “Lemme put it in the ol’ computer”. Filmmakers these days can’t seem to make a good horror film to save their lives(no pun intended).

  • Halloween_Vic

    Ok wait I’m confused? Can someone explain this to me….

    • ScriptGiverrrr

      Lol

  • Sam Oslich

    You’re high if you actually think any of this will happen. There’s no way Jason films with the Jason character in them would be banned in the USA. Get real guys. Even if Miller wins, you really think he wouldn’t allow the character to be used? You people will believe anything.

    • Corey

      Yeah, he would just get a piece of the pie. He would just be costing himself money if he didn’t allow them to use the character.

  • Joel Arkaine

    I’m not a lawyer, nor have I voiced one in a project yet. But have been a fan of Bill Handel, a lawyer on KFI IN LA, CA for almost 20 years, and as such, and I’ve picked up a layman’s knowledge of the Law. I think in the end the judge will toss Miller’s claim. For one thing, regardless of the statue he’s trying to apply I’m sure there are other statues in place dealing with the length of time involved. Also, I’m pretty sure there was a rider in his original contract were he relinquished his rights to sequels, characters, ect for a fee. Most do, and they get signed because no one is the Amazing Creskin and can see the future. This is a fishing expedition by Miller’s lawyer by the sound of it.

    That said, I’ve been a fan of the series since the very first one when I saw it on video in 1981. My first in-theater viewing was in 82 with Part 3 in 3-D. All that said I’d be happy if they squeezed one more film out of this old zombie to hit the Lucky Part 13 and then let it die. Really, come on now. Jason’s been in Space, he’s fought Freddy and won, (sort of), and he’s been to Hell and back so many times the demons down there just yell his name when he pops in, like Norm on Cheers. Really, short of having him start killing teens from parallel dimensions, like Sliders, there’s very little left to do. And I personally am sick of “mulligans”, (Reboots, spin-off sequels, ect). I don’t need to see a new version of Part 2 or 3. Just give us one last solid story, bring back some of the previous surviving ladies and blow Jason into cloud of vapor. The End?

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