'Friday The 13th' Rights Case Update: Still Dragging On

Friday The 13th fans have been in limbo over when they may see their favorite slasher grace theater screens again. In what has become a landmark case now for authors everywhere, original screenwriter for the first Friday The 13th film Victor Miller won a court case in September 2018 awarding him the rights to the film. Miller sued series producer Sean Cunningham over the rights, arguing that the he was not a "work for hire' employee and that he should get them back. The judge in that case agreed, and Miller won. This opened the door to more franchise writers to put in claims for their works and studios became spooked. Important note: this decision does not include Jason the killer wearing the hockey mask. Only that first film.

The Friday The 13th decision was naturally appealed, and now the argument is if Miller was an employee or an independent contractor. Since he is a member of the Writer's Guild, and received health and pension benefits, Cunningham's side argues that since Miller's work on the film was "guided" by his WGA master agreement, he should be considered an employee , not an independent contractor. Miller's attorney had this to say about the Cunningham defense, since it it all based on the WGA membership:

"With the demise of the studio system in the 1950s, almost all screenwriters work as independent contractors," said Toberoff. "The only writers today in Hollywood that arguably don't work as independent contractors are those working in the writers room of a TV series that goes on for many, many years. There's nothing that interesting that Miller is a member of a union."

While all of these means that we are nowhere close to a new Friday The 13th film coming to theaters, this is a really important case. Think of all the franchises that could revert back to the writers after 35 years. Many are given up without a fight that we don't even know about, but not things like Friday The 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street etc. These are huge cash cows that studios would rather die than give up. They may be forced to though, and then it gets really interesting. Say, Disney like buying things. Maybe we can get them to buy Friday The 13th from Miller and Cunningham and we can get a Jason ride at Hollywood Studios.

More excellent reporting can be found on this subject right here.

About Jeremy Konrad

Jeremy Konrad has written about collectibles and film for almost ten years. He has a deep and vast knowledge of both. He resides in Ohio with his family.

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