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Friday the 13th: The Lawsuit Lives

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  • Friday the 13th: The Lawsuit Lives

    I thought it'd be prudent to have a thread dedicated to the on-going legal battle that seems to have held up the potential advancement of a new Friday the 13th film.

    The most recent news I've been able to find is from August of this year: 'Friday the 13th' Rights at Stake in Lawsuit Over Horror Classic

    The screams are now coming from a federal court in Connecticut, where a lawsuit was filed on Wednesday that will determine who holds rights and may license new film versions of the horror-film classic Friday the 13th.

    On one side of the battle is Victor Miller, who wrote the story for the original 1980 film and is credited with coming up with the characters for the many sequels and reboots. According to a complaint, he is looking to take advantage of a provision in copyright law that allows authors to terminate a grant of rights and reclaim ownership.

    However, as many authors have learned (particularly those who once freelanced for Marvel Comics), those termination rights aren't foolproof. If someone contributes material as a work-made-for-hire, then it's the employer who is seen as the true statutory author with no possibility of rights termination.

    Here, Horror, Inc. and the Manny Company are the plaintiffs, claiming in their lawsuit that Miller wrote Friday the 13th as a work-made-for-hire. Specifically, they say that in 1979, Sean Cunningham had the idea to capitalize on the success of the then-recently released horror film Halloween and went to Miller, with whom he had previously worked on a film titled Here Come the Tigers, to develop this idea.

    "Miller had never written a horror screenplay prior to his being hired by Cunningham and was guided in the process, and directly supervised, by Cunningham," asserts the complaint. "Accordingly, Miller entered into an employment agreement with the Manny Company pursuant to which Miller wrote a screenplay for the Film as a work for hire (the 'Screenplay')."

    Georgetown Productions, a predecessor company of the plaintiff, is said to have taken the "bold risk" to finance the production in exchange for Manny Company's assignment of rights. This happened, according to the complaint, after Cunningham had come up with the idea for a Friday the 13th film and took an ad out in Daily Variety to see if anyone was interested in funding the proposed film. As distributors called, Cunningham and Miller "began furiously working on the development of the Screenplay," says the lawsuit.

    Thirty-six years later, Miller is trying to grab ahold of rights with notices sent in June seeking termination effective on July 2018. The copyright registration listed Georgetown as the author, though Miller's contract doesn't have "work for hire" written anywhere on it.

    "As a result of Miller’s improper actions, a cloud has been placed on Horror's rights in and to the popular and lucrative Friday the 13th movie franchise and has caused, and will continue to cause, both Horror and the Manny Company significant damages," states the complaint. "In addition to seeking a declaration of the parties' respective rights, the Manny Company seeks a determination that Miller has materially breached the Employment Agreement, has slandered Horror's title in Friday the 13th, and has engaged in unfair trade practices."
    On top of the lawsuit, the rights to Jason revert to New Line in 2018, so while we might not see another Friday the 13th film anytime soon, we might see a Jason film sans familiar title (meaning a return to the late 90s/early 2000s status quo).

    God knows what's going to happen with the series moving forward, but if and when there's news surrounding Victor Miller's lawsuit, I'll try and post it here.
    "How do you turn this off, then?"

  • #2
    Maybe it's just me being crazy, but I wouldn't exactly be opposed to waiting until 2020 to make the next sequel. Then they could make a big deal out of the combination of the fortieth anniversary of the franchise and it being Friday the 13th Part 13.

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    • #3
      I feel like we've been waiting for so long (8+ years since the reboot) that another couple years won't hurt us. Friday F1340: 40 Years Later?
      The New Line names for the movies were a little dopey, but you knew you were going to see a Friday the 13th movie. It would be nice to see the familiar title attached, but not absolutely necessary.
      Eight movies in the 80s... four movies over the next 30 years. Hope the courts sort it all out and we get another one before I'm dead.

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      • #4
        I never thought Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street would go as dormant as they've become. I mean, I never expected a return to the glory days of an annual sequel, but I dared to hope we could get a new film every three to four years. But even the proposed TV series reboot appears to have dropped off the face of the planet, and this makes me sad.
        "How do you turn this off, then?"

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Genes of the Dead View Post
          I never thought Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street would go as dormant as they've become. I mean, I never expected a return to the glory days of an annual sequel, but I dared to hope we could get a new film every three to four years. But even the proposed TV series reboot appears to have dropped off the face of the planet, and this makes me sad.
          But then it seems like the slasher genre itself is so far past its glory days that they seem like a distant memory. The golden age of the 80s probably won't ever happen again, and the 90s post-Scream revival kinda trailed off once we hit the year 2000. The stuff that gets made nowadays are pretty much direct-to-video crap that nobody will ever see or even hear of. Or if they do get any sort of notable release, they end up like the Hatchet franchise or Midnight Meat Train and play in so few theaters for such a short amount of time that they might as well have just gone direct to video in the first place and only the most diehard of horror fans will know they exist at all.

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          • #6
            Yeah, the slasher genre is on the wane in general. Supernatural horror and home invasion seem to be en vogue at the moment, with the occasional creature feature sprinkled in.

            Honestly, I'd be perfectly fine with Friday the 13th going direct to video. They could be unrated, for one thing. The format has worked fine for the Child's Play franchise over the last few years, and I don't think the average Friday the 13th flick needs more than around $10 million as a budget anyway. We live in a world where Netflix is pumping out direct-to-TV films that cost upwards of $30 million to produce. Surely it isn't too much to ask to get a $10 million Friday the 13th film every few years?

            When the rights revert to New Line/Warner Bros, I wouldn't be surprised if we start getting direct-to-DVD Jason movies.
            "How do you turn this off, then?"

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            • #7
              The next F13 should just be a courtroom drama about this entire ordeal that somehow ends with Jason himself crashing the courtroom.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by The Dream Master View Post
                The next F13 should just be a courtroom drama about this entire ordeal that somehow ends with Jason himself crashing the courtroom.
                "I plead the thirteenth."

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by The Dream Master View Post
                  The next F13 should just be a courtroom drama about this entire ordeal that somehow ends with Jason himself crashing the courtroom.
                  That's still my favorite of the rejected Freddy vs Jason screenplays.
                  "How do you turn this off, then?"

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                  • #10
                    Here's a video you might find interesting, created last month:

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                    • #11
                      Yeah, I wouldn't mind waiting until 2020.
                      Last edited by Bree's Dance; 01-05-2018, 12:04 AM.

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                      • #12
                        For some reason, and it's probably nostalgia purposes, I don't want F13 to go DTV. Curse of Chucky was good, but the feel was cheesy to me and don't get me started on the shit show that was Cult. I was actually having this discussion with myself whilst driving yesterday. My only interest is to see Jason on the big screen because I know his appeal is still out there. 13 year old kids playing the game, my little cousins know who Jason is; he can still work in the mainstream. Going DTV seems like a tap out.

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                        • #13
                          To be fair, the game isn't exactly THAT popular. There's very rarely more than 2,000 players online at any given time on Steam, which is peanuts when compared to the 20,000 concurrent users Dead by Daylight gets on any given day. There's a dedicated community to Friday the 13th: The Game, but it's incredibly small.
                          "How do you turn this off, then?"

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                          • #14
                            That doesn't mean only 2,000 people bought the game.

                            I really was just surprised at the amount of squeakers in a given match. I'd say you could easily encounter 1-2 each match. I've played in lobbies full of them. And in the matches that the host doesn't want them, it's good for 1-2 kicks.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Violent VicTiM View Post
                              That doesn't mean only 2,000 people bought the game.
                              No, 1.8 million people have bought the game as of August 2017 (making it a rather limp success by AAA publisher standards). But sell-through means a lot less than consistent online players when your game is predominately online. Dead by Daylight has sold 3 million units, but again, that number isn't as important as the number of people who continue to play concurrently each day.
                              "How do you turn this off, then?"

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