Federal Court Sides with Victor Miller in Friday the 13th Lawsuit
The writer of the original film is one step closer to recovering the rights.
By Chris Morse
The lawsuit surrounding the Friday the 13th franchise that cancelled all future updates for Friday the 13th: The Game is one step closer to reaching a resolution. Earlier today, a federal court ruled in favor of the defendant, Victor Miller, who wrote the screenplay for the first film. He was being sued by the current franchise rights holder, Sean Cunningham of Horror Inc, who produced the first movie.
BREAKING: A federal court just sided with "Friday the 13th" screenwriter Victor Miller in his case aimed at clawing back control of the #copyrights to the script. The order itself is sealed, but judge ruled for Miller: pic.twitter.com/wXSm3RW2yU— Bill Donahue (@Bill__Donahue) September 28, 2018
If you need a refresher, we've got you covered. Essentially, the Copyright Act includes a provision that the original rights holder can use to reclaim what they once owned for any number of reasons. For example, if a bad deal was made many years prior or the value of the property has since shifted in such a way that might warrant a new or better deal, this is a tool that creators can use to secure the rights back.
In this case, there were some factors in dispute, such as whether Miller was considered an employee or not when he first wrote the film. Thus, the argument moved into the courts and has been in limbo for quite some time, which led to the eventual cancellation of future content for the video game.
What this ruling today means is that Miller, the writer of the original Friday the 13th, is one step closer to reclaiming his rights to the franchise. There are some limitations, which franchise alumni and attorney Larry Zerner went over with us in an earlier interview, but in a practical sense, the biggest takeaway is that this dispute is much closer to being resolved and the series should soon be able to continue.
Cunningham will appeal the ruling but this also means there's a chance for the two to come to a compromise and settle the case, since the rights beyond the first movie are a trickier beast all around. More than likely, this will simply allow to Miller to negotiate a better deal and perhaps become involved in some future projects within the franchise. In a recent tweet, Zerner says that much is possible now.
The matter is yet not fully resolved but we are getting close. The ruling today gets the ball rolling towards a conclusion on many levels. Depending on how the appeal goes and if there are new negotiations towards a settlement, we will certainly be hearing more soon. What happens next will help chart out the future of the Friday the 13th franchise and where it goes from here.
For those curious, no, this does not change anything for Friday the 13th: The Game. Putting operations on pause for that long has always meant that the team would not be able to pick back up and return to the game at a later date. However, movies and other properties will be back on the table once a deal is reached, which we are sure that fans will be grateful for.
With that in mind, having a ruling today is good news all around. Stay tuned for all of the latest on the case as well as Friday the 13th in general here on Dead Entertainment.
Exclusive Interview: Larry Zerner Discusses the Friday the 13th Legal Battle
The actor-turned-attorney shares some greater insight into the legal battle unfolding and what it could mean for the franchise.