Friday The 13th officially belongs to Victor Miller. The screenwriter has won the appeal in the case for the rights to the Friday The 13th franchise, sending Sean Cunningham and Horror Inc. to defeat. This means that Miller will indeed claim ownership of the domestic rights to the franchise going forward. Now, this does not mean that he owns the rights to the adult version of Jason Voorhees, but the franchise name and first film will belong to him. It also does not mean Miller is free and clear to do as he pleases with the franchise; there are still many, many deals to be made behind the scenes. The Hollywood Reporter, invaluable during all this, had the report.
Friday The 13th Sets A Precedent In Hollywood. Take Note, Marvel
The whole argument boils down to this: when Miller was hired to write the first Friday The 13th movie, Cunningham argues that it was a "work for hire" situation and that he should have no claim to the copyright to the screenplay in the first place, as a court ruled in 2018. The trial judge had ruled that the rights go to Miller after all these years under the Copyright Act's termination right, which allows authors to regain rights to work they signed over to a company, Cunningham and Horror Inc. were hoping that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals would turn that decision over. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals was asked to decide if Miller will keep the rights to the Friday screenplay, as decided in 2018, or if they'll revert back to Cunningham/Horror Inc. They have sided with Miller. Now, this could go to the Supreme Court still, but nobody seems to be sure that will happen.
This is not completely unlike what is happening with Marvel and Disney right now, and this case is a very high-profile example that is going to send shockwaves through Hollywood. Make no mistake, this will be happening more and more now, and I feel that horror franchises are going to be where we see the most action and suits being filed.
For now, Jason will still lie dormant while whatever backdoor meetings take place. But this was a significant step to seeing him stalk victims on the screen once again.