Movies & TV / News

Victor Miller Holds Friday the 13th Rights After Legal Win Not Appealed

December 30, 2021 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Friday the 13th Pamela Voorhees Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

Victor Miller is the official holder of the rights for the first Friday the 13th with the lawsuit over them officially settled, though the franchise’s future isn’t much clearer. As you may recall, Miller – who wrote the original 1980 slasher film – was in a legal battle with producer Sean S. Cunningham over the film’s rights after Miller used the termination right of the 1976 Copyright Act to reclaim those rights. Cunningham sued, arguing that the film was a work for hire and Miller didn’t own the rights in the first place, and a protracted legal battle had follows.

Miller won the appeal back in September, but Cunningham had until December 29th to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. Larry Zerner, a copyright, trademark & entertainment attorney – who also played Shelly Finkelstein, the teen Jason Voorhees killed to get his hockey mask in Friday the 13th Part III — noted on Twitter that the petition was not filed, and the lawsuit is officially over.

As Zerner notes though, this doesn’t clear up the future of the franchise. Miller owns the rights to the original film’s screenplay in the US, but not the elements of Jason Voorhees that were introduced in the later films which is basically everything that makes Jason iconic (the mask, the killer). Meanwhile, Cunningham owns the rest but cannot use him in a film without Miller’s permission due to the fact that Jason is introduced in the first film.

Essentially, the two sides will have to work together if any Friday the 13th projects are to move forward from here. The legal limbo status of the franchise has stalled out the franchise since 2016.

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Friday the 13th, Jeremy Thomas