Friday the 13th is dead in the water at Paramount

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

Last decade, Paramount Pictures - the distributor of the first eight installments in the FRIDAY THE 13TH franchise - and Warner Bros./New Line Cinema - who released JASON GOES TO HELL, JASON X, and FREDDY VS. JASON - teamed up with production company Platinum Dunes to get 2009's FRIDAY THE 13TH reboot off the ground. The film made over $91 million at the global box office on a budget of $19 million. That's a success you would expect to see followed up with a multitude of sequels, right?

Well, a sequel to that film was quickly announced, a screenplay was written by FREDDY VS. JASON / F13 '09 scribes Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, and it looked like our beloved hockey masked slasher Jason Voorhees would be back on the big screen very soon. Then the project ran into a wall. Studios were butting heads, there were disagreements over the budget, which was said to be higher than $19 million (especially since the plan was to shoot this one in 3D), and things just couldn't be worked out.

Years passed, and in 2013 there was a glimmer of hope - Christopher Nolan's INTERSTELLAR was set up at Paramount, and since Nolan had made the DARK KNIGHT trilogy at Warner Bros. they were interested in getting in on the action. In exchange for being allowed to come on board INTERSTELLAR, Warner Bros. handed the FRIDAY THE 13TH rights over to Paramount for a period of five years. For five years, Paramount would have F13 all to themselves, to do with as they pleased. This was promising, because in the '80s they would have pumped out at least four sequels in that amount of time.

Unfortunately, Paramount wanted a found footage FRIDAY THE 13TH. After all, the studio has had a lot of success with that style, being home to the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY series. David Bruckner, who had experience with found footage after directing the "Amateur Night" segment of V/H/S/, was hired to direct the film, and a lot of time was wasted trying to mesh F13 with found footage. A script was written by Richard Naing and Ian Goldberg, the writing duo behind THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE, but it just wasn't to be.

The found footage approach abandoned, Hannibal writer Nick Antosca was brought on to write a more traditional FRIDAY THE 13TH. Although the Antosca draft has gotten some positive reactions from those who have been lucky enough to read it, Paramount and Platinum Dunes decided not to move forward with that script, either. When that decision was made, Bruckner was let go to pursue other projects rather than remain attached to something in development hell.

At this point, the clock was beginning to run down. When PRISONERS screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski was brought on board to craft a script that would feature both an "origin-ish" look back at Jason's childhood and an adult Jason knocking off camp counselors, it was clear that this was Paramount's last shot at trying to develop a FRIDAY THE 13TH story. If Guzikowski's draft was rejected, there wouldn't be time to bring another writer in.

Things were looking very good recently. Guzikowski's script was completed, THE CRAZIES / THE LAST WITCH HUNTER director Breck Eisner was hired to bring it to the screen, locations were being scouted in the Atlanta, Georgia area. Casting calls were sent out. Legacy Effects were making Jason's hockey mask. Filming was scheduled to take place between March 19th and May 4th. There was no stopping it now, we were getting a new FRIDAY THE 13TH movie! Sure, the filmmakers were going to have to bust their asses to get it ready for its October 13th release date, but entries in the '80s had been made in similarly short periods of time.

Yesterday, Paramount made the baffling decision to remove FRIDAY THE 13TH from their 2017 release schedule. Did they not believe it movie could be made in time for October? Were they going to re-schedule it for later in the year? Would they be able to release it in 2018, even though that's when the five year window Warner Bros. gave them will be closing?

As it turns out, re-scheduling the release isn't an issue. Less than six weeks out from the filming start date, Paramount has pulled the plug on FRIDAY THE 13TH. Platinum Dunes and Eisner were notified yesterday that the studio has chosen not to move forward with the project at this time, and if they're not moving forward now they won't be moving forward with it at all. There's no time left.

Why would Paramount do this? Rumor is that they got cold feet, their faith in horror shaken by the disappointing box office of RINGS last weekend. With a budget of $25 million, RINGS made $13 million over its opening weekend. So on Monday, the studio scrapped FRIDAY THE 13TH.

F13's $21 million budget was reportedly a factor in this decision, and while I firmly believe that FRIDAY THE 13TH would make much more money than RINGS, especially with an October release date, $21 million is high for an F13 movie. Fans have been saying this ever since hearing that the '09 film would cost $19 million - these movies do not have to be that expensive. FRIDAY THE 13THs can easily be made on the Blumhouse budget, $10 million and under. If the budgets weren't cracking 20 on these, we might have gotten another FRIDAY THE 13TH a lot sooner. This one might even still be heading toward production if it were cheaper.

Crazy Ralph was right. "It's got a death curse." A series that used to be able to get sequels out on a yearly basis has now spent eight years spinning its wheels. In that period of time, four different scripts have been written that will never be made into FRIDAY THE 13TH movies.

The curse is clear in the fact that RINGS finally made it to theatres just in time to cause this damage to FRIDAY THE 13TH. February 3rd was the fourth release date the long-delayed film had been given. It was originally supposed to be in theatres on November 13, 2015. It was the almost fifteen months of delays that allowed Samara to kill Jason.

Sometime in 2018, Warner Bros. will be getting the rights to FRIDAY THE 13TH back. Will they decide to move ahead with a new film any time soon? We'll have to wait and see. Next summer, Victor Miller and Sean S. Cunningham, the writer and director of the original FRIDAY THE 13TH, will be going to court to get a ruling on which of them should hold the rights to that film and the characters and concepts introduced in it. It's likely that issue will need be resolved before anyone starts making plans for the future.

Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI

Extra Tidbit: What do you think of Paramount's decision?
Source: VarietyTHR



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