Lawsuit over Jason Voorhees
By: Justin Hopkins
There is not many more symbolic faces to a movie genre then Jason Voorhees. One of the all time great monsters. Since 1980 he has been a namesake. From motivating his Mother in the first, to becoming the main antagonist in part 2. From Crystal Lake to New York. Space to Elm Street. Jumping medias to Simpsons and South Park. Three video games under his belt and slashed his way through Mortal Kombat X, but Who owns him? That is the question facing a Connecticut Judge. Was it Victor Miller or Sean S. Cunningham. Both making a compelling case, and a decision that can rock the franchise we all love.
Victor is using a clause from the 1976 Copyright Act to claim ownership over it including the title Friday the 13th and the character Jason. Being that he wrote the script for Friday the 13th part one. Proclaiming that he worked as an independent writer when he penned the script. That barring a few minor changes. It was primarily his vision.
On the flipside; you got the writer/director, Sean S. Cunningham. He is recount of the situation is quite different. That Victor was hired to write the script. Which would put ownership with Cunningham. Second and third, that his script was called Long Night At Camp Blood, and Jason was dead in his script. The title was changed afterward to Friday the 13th after they got the script. Meaning Sean holds the rights.
Here’s where things get tricky. Depending on the evidence brought forward. The judge has a third choice. That being to split the ownership. Miller would get the credit for the first movie, including Camp Crystal Lake and the title Friday the 13th, but Sean would get credit for Jason Voorhees and what happened from part 2 on. Since he was not truly introduced till after Miller was gone.
How could a sequel be made like this? Unless the two can make an arrangement and agree to share. Sean would be without Jason’s Mother, his backstory and Camp Crystal Lake. He could make a sequel or reboot with all of that, but would be banned in the United States and Miller would be without the monster that gets people into the theater.
In my opinion, ownership belongs to Sean S. Cunningham. Forgetting for a moment that it has been 37 years. You just got to go back to the first movie. Crazy Ralph and the citizens referred to Crystal Lake as Camp Blood. Thinking about his title, that line seems like a call back to what would have been the original title, which would mean there was more then just minor changes, and he wouldn’t qualify for ownership of the title Friday the 13th, and Jason was dead throughout the first movie. His death was the motivation for Pamela.
After 37 years, Jason still has a bright future. Go onto a fan site on Facebook and many would love to see him come back to the silver screen in another movie, and would jump at the bits to see him interact with another horror legend. How popular his newest game is shows that he still draws big. Hate to see it end over something as petty as this.