As you may know, the Friday the 13th franchise has been tangled up in a lengthy legal battle between Sean Cunningham, who directed and produced the original film, and Victor Miller, who wrote it. Back in September, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a win for Miller in a copyright termination battle that allowed him to reclaim the domestic rights to the franchise, but Cunningham’s company still had a chance to appeal.
As of this week, however, it looks like the case may finally have come to an end.
“I still don’t see a cert petition filed with the Supreme Court in the Friday the 13th case,” trademark and entertainment lawyer Larry Zerner (who played Shelly in Friday the 13th Part III) explained in a thread on Twitter this week. “What does this mean? Well, it means the case is officially over and Victor Miller owns the rights to his screenplay in F13 (but only in the US).
“Does this mean that the parties have settled or are close to settling (and a new movie is forthcoming)? Not necessarily, it could just mean that Sean Cunningham realized that a cert petition was a real longshot and didn’t want to waste his money. However, the fact that he didn’t file a cert petition makes it (very) slightly more likely that the parties are working out a resolution. But I wouldn’t hold my breath.
“Can Victor and Sean just each make their own separate movies? Not really, because Victor only owns US rights and only to the first script and Sean owns adult, hockey mask-wearing Jason but can’t legally use him in a movie without Victor’s permission. It’s complicated.”
So, while it’s good news that this messy rights battle has potentially come to an end, it sounds like we shouldn’t expect a new Friday the 13th movie any time soon. At least we have twelve previous films to revisit while this situation unfolds!
Words: Samantha McLaren (@themeatispeople)