Friday the 13th fans know that we haven’t had a new entry into the franchise in more than a decade now. The reason for this comes down to a bitter lawsuit between the original writer of the 1980 film, Victor Miller, and director Sean S. Cunningham. In 2016, Miller told Cunningham and the production company Manny, Inc. that he planned to terminate copyright.
Writers sometimes choose to do this because they no longer want their idea milked for money. Perhaps they think the studio has run their original vision into the ground. There are various reasons behind the decision. The crux of the lawsuit has come down to Cunningham arguing that Miller doesn’t have legal grounds to terminate because he was hired to write the original script. Miller argued that he was an independent contractor, meaning he should retain authorship rights over the story.
Friday the 13th lawsuit update
In the most recent update on the lawsuit, The Hollywood Reporter shares that the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted him the win in his copyright termination battle on Thursday. Victor Miller will reclaim the domestic rights to the franchise he helped create.
Did Victor Miller win the Friday the 13th lawsuit?
Yes, but there is still a long way to go before we might see Jason Voorhees carving people up with a machete on the big screen again.
In 2018, a federal judge ruled it was not a work made for hire and thus could not terminate the copyright on his work. Miller appealed that decision and won. The recent decision from the circuit court decided Miller was an independent contractor and thus maintains authorship rights. He will reclaim the domestic rights to the franchise.
In short, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Cunningham’s argument that Miller was hired to contribute his screenplay.
Who owns the rights to Jason?
This is where things get a little more complicated. Right now, Miller just owns the domestic rights to the original 1980 screenplay. That doesn’t necessarily include the full-grown Jason Voorhees, who took over killing from his mother, Pamela. Plus, he doesn’t own foreign rights. Cunningham still retains those.
Will there be another Friday the 13th movie 2021?
It’s much too early to tell if there will be a Friday the 13th movie in the future, although it seems inevitable that someday we will. But as of this year, there is nothing planned, and Miller doesn’t have everything he needs to make another film or find another collaborator.
Hopefully, within the next year, Cunningham and Miller can work something out that will allow somebody to bring Jason back to the big screen.