Before the rights to the franchise were hung up in a complicated legal battle that is still leaving its future hanging in the balance, Paramount was *this* close to getting another Friday the 13th film off the ground. Breck Eisner (The Crazies) was all set to direct a brand new Paramount/Platinum Dunes reboot from a script penned by Aaron Guzikowski, but the project was indefinitely shut down in February 2017. The story at the time was that the box office under-performance of Rings gave Paramount cold feet about reviving another long dormant horror franchise, but as it turns out, that’s not the *whole* story.
As hardcore fans are aware, the rights to the Friday the 13th franchise reverted back to Warner Bros./New Line early this year (a separate issue from the more problematic lawsuit that’s unfolding as I sit here typing this article up), and Platinum Dunes producer Brad Fuller explains in a new chat with Syfy Wire that the impending loss of franchise rights played heavily into Paramount’s decision to scrap the Eisner-directed film last year.
“There was a couple of things. I think there was concern about the rights looming at that point,” Fuller explained. “Paramount was concerned if they made that movie and the rights were not available… if you are going to make that movie, you want to be able to ride it for more than one or two movies. That didn’t exist in this rights structure. We were going down the road to make the movie, but, at the end of the day, economically and/or creatively, they didn’t want to make it.”
He continued, “There’s this clause in the rights that the rights revert back to New Line. As that date became closer and closer, Paramount would have made one Friday the 13th movie and then New Line would have benefited if the movie was great. Then, New Line could have followed it up with subsequent movies. It put Paramount in a very tough position to go ahead and actually make the movie, and then us to reap the benefits if it was successful beyond that particular film.”
In addition to the rights issues, Fuller confirms that Rings played a role as well.
“That was also a time when sequels were not doing as well,” he explained. “We’re all kind of reactionary when you are making something. You are looking for evidence that tells you that what you are making is right on the cutting edge of where society is going, and you certainly don’t want to make something that feels like the timing is wrong. I wouldn’t say the whole thing fell apart because of [Rings]. I certainly think that played into it. But, I also think the rights and now the litigation about the rights for Friday the 13th played into it in a much more substantial way than just how the Rings sequel did.”
At this time, literally *nothing* is going on with the franchise. And as nice as it would’ve been to get one more film before the legal issues became a full-blown (temporary) franchise killer, it’s completely understandable that Paramount didn’t want to bring Jason Voorhees back only to lose him shortly thereafter. You can’t blame them, even if the decision was a total bummer.
We’ll be waiting for you, Jason. We’ll never stop waiting.