There’s still some major trouble brewing in and around Crystal Lake—and it has nothing to do with an undead slasher in a hockey mask. We first reported last August that the franchise rights to Friday the 13th had been called into question following a lawsuit filed by original 13th scribe Victor Miller. To recap:
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. On the other side, 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; they have filed a countersuit against Miller along with a motion to dismiss.
The latest update in THR is a dense, 3,000 word article overflowing with legalese that’s the definition of dull; you can read the entire thing (including all related court filings), HERE. Otherwise, I’ll do my best to break it down in the points below:
- Horror Inc. claims Miller signed an agreement to write the screenplay for the original Friday in exchange for a lump- sum payment, making his initial lawsuit invalid.
- Miller’s attorney Marc Toberoff says the scrip for Friday the 13th does not qualify as “Work for Hire.”
- The absence of an express agreement in writing providing that Miller’s screenplay was to be considered a work made for hire dooms the claim, the defendants argue.
- Miller also points out there’s no allegation he was paid a salary, had taxes and social security withheld, and worked on the producer’s premises in the writing of Friday the 13th.
- If Miller is able to convince the judge that the lawsuit falls within the ambit of California’s anti-SLAPP statute, then the judge would address whether Horror, Inc. and Manny Company have a likelihood of prevailing before moving the case any further.
It’s not clear how or if these lawsuits will affect the next Friday the 13th reboot, currently in production, with a target release date of October 13th, 2017. It’s a Friday, or course!
In the original film: Crystal Lake’s history of murder doesn’t deter counselors from setting up a summer camp in the woodsy area. Superstitious locals warn against it, but the fresh-faced young people — Jack (Kevin Bacon), Alice (Adrienne King), Bill (Harry Crosby), Marcie (Jeannine Taylor) and Ned (Mark Nelson) — pay little heed to the old-timers. Then they find themselves stalked by a brutal killer. As they’re slashed, shot and stabbed, the counselors struggle to stay alive against a merciless opponent.