After a fun social media post Thursday on New Line Cinema’s official account, speculation ran rampant that there would be incoming news about a future entry in the “Friday the 13th” franchise. Unfortunately, TheWrap has learned that there are no such plans (at least not right now). And, in fact, the social media post was just for fun.
To explain: Thursday, New Line Cinema’s Instagram account posted a photo of an iPhone home screen (which has now been deleted) with an incoming message from “Jason Voorhees.” The accompanying caption read: “Uh oh. What do you think Jason Voorhees wants?!” This, of course, sent the internet into a frenzy. The common refrain was that New Line must be announcing a new “Friday the 13th” project right away. But we have confirmed that this isn’t true. It was just a fun post. And quite frankly, it might not even be possible to make a new “Friday the 13th” movie at this juncture.
As is exhaustively detailed in this article, the “Friday the 13th” rights have been locked in a highly contested legal battle between Victor Miller, the screenwriter of the original “Friday the 13th” and that film’s director and producer, Sean Cunningham, who oversaw the rest of the franchise. As the article details, Miller will most likely wind up with the characters and script from the original film, but Cunningham controls the title and the elements from the subsequent films, which includes the hockey mask, the adult Jason character (who wasn’t in the original movie, we should all remember) and other elements introduced later on in the franchise.
While incredibly complicated, this isn’t exactly out of the ordinary. Take the “Child’s Play” franchise, for instance. MGM still controls the first movie and the title “Child’s Play,” and they made a very lousy remake in 2019, with a character that was loosely Chucky (he was called Bud-I and voiced by Mark Hamill instead of Brad Dourif). Universal and original screenwriter Don Mancini have access to the Chucky character and the surrounding mythology, which is why the words “Child’s Play” haven’t appeared in the movies (or subsequent spin-off TV series) since “Child’s Play 3” back in 1991. (A similarly labyrinthine rights issue explains how Legendary can make a sequel to “Godzilla vs. Kong” while Disney+ can launch a “King Kong” streaming series almost simultaneously.)
As for the “Friday the 13th” franchise, what was once the most profitable and omnipresent horror brand hasn’t had a new entry since 2009’s remake, co-produced by Michael Bay. Sequel ideas were batted around; one idea had Jason in the snow while David Bruckner (whose “Hellraiser” reboot arrives on Hulu in October) pitched an ambitious found footage take for the follow-up. A 3D sequel was even floated (harkening back to the third canonical “Friday the 13th”). Nothing materialized.
The last time the series was even in the news, in relation to a new movie, was in the run-up to Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar.” Warner Bros. was so desperate to co-finance the movie that they gave Paramount the rights to make a new “Friday the 13th” movie (they were the original home of the franchise and made every installment through “Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan.” (“Jason Goes to Hell,” “Jason X” and “Freddy vs. Jason” were New Line joints.) Paramount didn’t exercise those rights or couldn’t because of the legal quagmire.
New Line (part of the Warner Bros. Discovery starship) definitely still has plans for the franchise (their deal is with Cunningham). Not only is it one of the most celebrated and beloved slasher franchises in modern history but they still do a ton with the property in the licensing and consumer products space, especially around Halloween. (I just typed in “Friday the 13th” into Hot Topic’s search engine and got 98 items back.) The only thing more plentiful than dead camp counselors at Camp Crystal Lake is money. But if you’re expecting news now, you’re going to be disappointed.