This past Friday, news broke that Friday the 13th screenwriter Victor Miller has prevailed in a lengthy legal battle that will determine the future fate of the franchise.
It was explained that U.S. District Court Judge Stefan Underhill granted summary judgment in favor of Miller and against the producers, Horror, Inc. Full details were not disclosed, but Miller is said to be retaining the Friday the 13th rights in the U.S. alone, which makes it complicated to use the title.
As for Jason Voorhees, his infamous mask wasn’t introduced until Friday the 13th Part III, which means Horror Inc. can use the character without Miller’s consent.
In fact, Bloody Disgusting just obtained a statement regarding the recent Friday the 13th court ruling from franchise producer Horror, Inc.:
“We are disappointed in the court’s ruling and disagree with its conclusion. We are considering our options including an appeal. In the meantime, the court was very clear that its ruling in favor of Mr. Miller is limited to the original screenplay in which Jason’s mother is the killer and that Mr. Miller’s termination notice did not purport to terminate the separate copyright in the iconic supernatural killer who wears a hockey mask. It also does not grant any rights to Mr. Miller that would enable him to use any element of the original screenplay outside of the United States.
“Following the guidelines set down by the Court’s ruling, we intend to aggressively explore many opportunities for new projects featuring settings and characters (including the hockey mask-wearing killer) not included in Mr. Miller’s screenplay, and in fact are currently in development on new projects that are consistent with the ruling which will be announced soon.”
This is all vague and extremely unclear to me. One thing we know is that Horror, Inc. will have all international rights. It’s very hard to understand the full ramifications of the ruling, but what we gather is that Horror, Inc. plans to bring Jason Voorhees and characters from the later Friday the 13th films to life in new projects either way.
The good news here is that Jason Voorhees will find a way to be resurrected, but it sounds like this is going to be a long road to resolution. We’ll keep you posted as new details surface, and with any news on Horror Inc.’s forthcoming Friday-related projects. Watch this spot.
[Updated Oct. 1 @ 10:32 am] Headline change to reflect new info.
[Update Oct. 1 11:53 am] An earlier version of this story speculated that Victor Miller would control rights in the title “Friday the 13th“. Horror, Inc. has reached out to us to confirm that Victor Miller has not been granted any rights in the name “Friday the 13th”.