Friday the 13th producers tease future plans after copyright ruling

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter Joseph Zito Ted White

The two year court case between FRIDAY THE 13TH screenwriter Victor Miller and producer/director Sean S. Cunningham has come to an end. For now. We reported yesterday that, instead of allowing the U.S. copyright to the 1980 original F13 to remain in the hands of Cunningham, the judge ruled that they should go to Miller - which means there are now some complicated issues to figure out when the producers try to plot the future of the franchise.

Miller will own the rights to everything that was introduced in that original film (except for the scene involving a motorcycle cop, since he didn't write that scene), including the child version of Jason Voorhees. But what about the masked slasher Jason who evolved over the course of the sequels? The judge declined to rule on whether or not Miller has any stake in that version of the character.

It looks like Cunningham and his collaborators at Horror Inc. are feeling confident that they'll be able to tell more slasher Jason stories without dealing with Miller, because while they consider appealing the judge's ruling in the copyright case, they're also already developing new FRIDAY THE 13TH projects. In a statement released to Bloody-Disgusting, the company said, 

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.

Before moving forward on these projects, Horror Inc. should probably spend more time in court to really confirm that they have the rights to use the hockey mask wearing killer Jason without Miller's approval. They can do whatever they want for the international market, since they still hold those rights, but if a court decides that Miller owns Jason within the United States, their projects wouldn't be able to get a domestic release.

It's also interesting that Horror Inc. said these projects would feature "settings" not in Miller's screenplay. That could mean that Miller now owns the settings of Crystal Lake and Camp Crystal Lake, so any future FRIDAY THE 13TH projects made without his involvement would have to take place at a different location (or at least they'd have to call it something else, or avoid mentioning the name of the place).

FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III cast member Larry Zerner, who is now an entertainment lawyer, thinks the best course of action for Horror Inc. to take is to make a deal with Miller.

Horror could appeal, but that will be at least 2 and more likely 3-4 years of waiting for a resolution.  Also, IMHO, the chance of Horror winning on appeal is poor. If Horror doesn't appeal, then it has to make a deal with Victor in order to make a new movie.  Victor only owns the U.S. rights to the original movie.  Horror owns the foreign rights to the first movie and to all the other movies. ... But hopefully, Victor and Sean will work something out and get moving on a new F13 movie ASAP.  With the new Halloween certain to be a blockbuster, this is the best time to be forging ahead on a new movie.  3-4 years from now is way too long to wait 

Zerner is right. In a few months it will have been ten years since the release of FRIDAY THE 13TH 2009. This franchise needs to make a comeback soon. Horror Inc. should really set aside their differences with Miller and make a deal with him so we can get a new film that isn't held back by any copyright issues.

Jason Voorhees is our favorite horror movie boogeyman here at Arrow in the Head, and I am very anxious to see him return to the screen.



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