Friday the 13th (2009) is fairly unique among slasher franchise reboots. As opposed to Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), this film is well regarded among fans of the originals. It wasn’t a great movie by any means, but then again neither were the originals. The reboot did everything it set out to do: it was a pretty decent Friday the 13th film. It boiled down to a bunch of irritating teenagers in their mid-twenties getting all stabbed up by a guy in a hockey mask, with a satisfying amount of gore and nudity along the way.
It seems rather strange that a series so dedicated to making unnecessary sequels with such zeal that it literally went into outer space would fail to deliver a follow-up. Hell, even the awful Texas Chainsaw Massacre reboot got a prequel, why shouldn’t Jason get another chance to shine? Well, as co-producer Brad Fuller explained to SyFy Wire, it largely had to do with the complicated mess of copyright issues that plague the series.
The 2009 reboot was produced by Paramount but the rights to Friday the 13th belongs to New Line Cinema. Paramount had only bought the right to produce Friday the 13th movies for a limited period of time. As Fuller explained, ‘There’s this clause in the rights that the rights revert back to New Line. As that date became closer and closer, Paramount would have made one Friday the 13th movie and then New Line would have benefited if the movie was great’. This made Paramount anxious about producing a sequel since New Line Cinema would have reaped the rewards. In this age of cinematic universes and endless sequels, producing a single film in a franchise is not considered worth doing.
That was not the only reason Fuller attributed to the failure for a sequel to materialise, however. It also had to do with the sequel to a completely different horror franchise: Rings. The third film in The Ring series flopped both critically and financially, and many of the Paramount producers felt that horror sequels were just not profitable anymore. Fuller said ‘I wouldn’t say the whole thing fell apart because of [Rings]. I certainly think that played into it’.
This is not this first time that the complicated ownership of the Friday the 13th franchise has been in the news this year. Friday the 13th: The Game cancelled all future content updates because of a dispute over the rights to the original movie. It is amusing that after all the punishment Jason Vorhees has endured, after being drowned, burned, shot, hung, decapitated and flung through the atmosphere, he is finally done in by teams of lawyers and endless bureaucracy.
Does this mean we will never see Jason on the silver screen again? I would say it’s unlikely. Jason is anything if not resilient. He survived the death of slasher movies in the 90s, and even the terrible cross-over craze of the 2000s. This is likely just another lull in his illustrious murder career, and he will no doubt return when another bloodless profiteer decides to dust off his hockey mask once more.