The rights to the Friday the 13th multimedia franchise are pretty messed up to say the least. As fans know at this point, a legal debacle between original Friday the 13th screenwriter Victor Miller and director Sean Cunningham have put the series on hold. This means no new movies or television shows – and it also stopped future updates for Friday the 13th: The Game. Now a new update on the Friday the 13th lawsuit has been released, and unfortunately, it’s not particularly uplifting for fans that want a new movie.
This update comes via CNN, where they attempted to put the current rights issue into perspective. In order to do this, they spoke with a member of Victor Miller’s legal team: Malibu copyright attorney Marc Toberoff. He discussed the current legal situation and what impact Victor Miller will have on any future Friday the 13th movie or project.
As explained by Marc Toberoff:
“Now we can license a remake, prequel or even sequel motion pictures… provided such films do not use any additional copyrightable elements.”
This means Victor Miller can only license new motion pictures as long as they only use elements from the original film. This means they can’t utilize any elements from the sequels, such as adult Jason Voorhees, his iconic hockey mask, or other such characters as Tommy Jarvis. Furthermore, Victor Miller doesn’t own the title to Friday the 13th either – so any new film from him would have to use a different name.
Marc Toberoff offers one potential avenue they could explore:
“We can license television series, exploring Crystal Lake and how Jason became who he is — think ‘Twin Peaks’ or ‘Bates Motel,’” he noted.
Of course, things continue to get complicated. While Victor Miller has these rights, they’re only applicable in the United States. This means he can’t license a film with worldwide distribution. Entertainment lawyer and Friday the 13th Part 3 star Larry Zerner explained these details.
“Miller has to convince a studio to make this thing that can only be distributed in the U.S.,” Zerner stated. “We can have this theoretical argument that you can do a movie that doesn’t infringe on the rights of anyone else, but is anyone seriously going to do that without worldwide rights? I doubt it.”
While fans might expect Sean Cunningham to just make a Friday the 13th film with adult Jason Voorhees, albeit not referencing the original film, it isn’t that simple either. It turns out that Sean Cunningham can’t make a film at all without Victor Miller’s permission. As such, Sean Cunningham acknowledges it might be awhile before a new Friday the 13th gets made.
“I think for sure it will come back,” Cunningham tells CNN. “But I can’t tell you it will come back this year or next. Will Jason come back in the theaters? Right now, it is 50-50.”
It’s clear that the best scenario for a new Friday the 13th movie would be for both parties to work together. Whether or not that will happen, however, remains to be seen. As such, fans can stay tuned to ScreenGeek for additional updates as we have them.