Hellraiser Author Clive Barker Reclaims U.S. Franchise Rights in 2021

Heading into the Halloween weekend, HBO served up a treat for fans of Clive Barker's "Hellraiser" franchise with news that the author and director of the 1987 horror film was joining the upcoming series as an executive producer. Returning to help bring Pinhead, fellow Cenobites, and more from his Hellraiser creations to the small screen, Barker said he was "delighted the 'Hellraiser' mythology is seeing a new life. It's time the stories went back to their roots. I'm eager to bring to a new audience the most powerful and ancient elements of horror: the darkest evil invading our human lives and how we must find in ourselves the power to resist it."

Pinhead is coming to HBO in a Hellraiser series, courtesy of Spyglass.
Pinhead is coming to HBO in a Hellraiser series, courtesy of Spyglass.

On Monday, we learned that Barker will be heading into the project with quite a bit more say over what hits the screen with THR reporting that his attorney filed papers in California federal court that confirmed a settlement had been reached with current rights holder Park Avenue Entertainment that finds Barker recapturing the U.S. franchise rights on December 19, 2021 (no decision on foreign rights yets). Under the Copyright Act of 1976, authors can recapture rights from publishers after waiting a designated period of time (35 years for new works, generally speaking) and then submitting a notice to reclaim rights within a five-year window of time. In June, a lawsuit was filed by the current rights-holder claiming that Barker couldn't terminate the deal because the original film contract should be governed by U.K. (and not U.S.) contract law. While it's clear that a deal agreement was reached, what still remains to be seen are what (if any) this move could have on the HBO series.

Why We Deserve Another Hellraiser Story with Kirsty Cotton
Photo Credit: Dimension Films – Spyglass Media Group

Halloween director David Gordon Green will direct the pilot and additional episodes during the season, with Mark Verheiden (Battlestar Gallactica, Daredevil, Heroes) and Michael Dougherty (X-Men United, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Trick r' Treat) serving as series writers and Verheiden showrunning. Verheiden and Dougherty will executive produce alongside Dan Farah (Farah Films), Roy Lee (Vertigo Entertainment), Panacea Entertainment's Lawrence Kuppin, David Salzman, Eric Gardner, and Marc Toberoff. Rough House Pictures partners Green, Danny McBride, Jody Hill, and Brandon James will also executive produce, with Farah Films executive Andrew Farah and Adam Salzman co-exec producing

The series is expected to build off the mythology established in the movie franchise as well as from Clive Barker's novella The Hellbound Heart, with Lee and Farah originally packaging the television rights to the series in June 2019 and sending it out to the broadcasters, cable networks, and streaming services. The series is being described as an "elevated continuation" of the already-established "Hellraiser" mythology, which means the creators of the series work off the premise that the Cenobites' past is already known and established. By going with that approach, the upcoming HBO series won't have to spend time at the beginning of its run having to re-establish a  backstory.

Pinhead will be the focus of the series, as will his supporting Cenobites. Called upon via a puzzle box called the Lament Configuration, the once-human demons harvest human would for Hell to maintain a twisted balance between good and evil. First published in November 1986, Barker's The Hellbound Heart would serve as the source material for a number of films under the "Hellraiser" banner including the original 1987 film, the 1988 sequel Hellbound: Hellraiser II, and a slew of other entries in the franchise.

About Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought onto the core BC team in 2017.