Why you'll never see Freddy vs Jason 2

In 2003, Freddy vs. Jason hit the big screen, reigniting two extremely popular horror franchises: A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th. The crossover not only made fans' dreams a reality by pitting the powerhouse horror movie monsters Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees against each other, it illustrated how fun and profitable it could be to bring these vastly different horror movie worlds together.

Off the success of the film, a sequel almost immediately went into development — and according to reports at the time, the studio contemplated adding yet another classic modern horror movie villain into the mix, with everyone from Halloween's Michael Myers to Hellraiser's Pinhead discussed. Eventually, execs settled on the idea of pitting Freddy and Jason against Evil Dead protagonist Ash Williams.

Having Evil Dead's chainsaw-wielding hero thrown into the mix with Freddy and Jason is the stuff of a horror fan's dreams. As exciting as this concept was, though, Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash never ended up seeing the light of day. By all accounts, it doesn't seem like fans will ever see these horror icons meet on the big screen — and here are all the reasons why.

Robert Englund hung up the Freddy hat for good

"I'm too old to do another Freddy now," longtime Freddy Krueger actor told Entertainment Weekly in 2017. It's a truth horror fans have a hard time accepting: The 70-year-old actor donned the fedora, red and green striped sweater, and bladed glove for nearly two decades, cementing Wes Craven's creation as one of the scariest monsters to ever grace the big screen. But between the makeup application process and the corporeal nature of the role, playing Freddy has taken its toll on Englund.

"I like to become a Christian martyr about the makeup for Freddy because I've done it so many times," Englund told MTV in 2010. "That's a good three-and-a-half to four hours not counting the insertion of the contact lenses, teeth, blood squibs or special effects like my Chest of Souls. So if they need me by 9AM, I'm there by five every morning."

Along with his intricate burn makeup, Robert Englund's physicality really helped bring Freddy to life. Without the actor's nimble movement, it's possible Freddy wouldn't have succeeded at terrifying his way into the hearts of fans the world over. "If I do a fight scene now," Englund explained to EW, "it's got to be real minimal because I can't snap my head for eight different takes and different angles. My spine gets sore. I can still be mean and scary, but I'm mostly relegated now to sort of Van Helsing roles, old doctors and s***."

Casting issues abound

In 2010, Oscar-nominated actor Jackie Earle Haley stepped into the shoes (hat, sweater, and glove) of Freddy Krueger for a new Nightmare on Elm Street film intended to reboot the franchise. Ultimately, it failed to capture the essence of Wes Craven's classic. Haley's performance as everybody's favorite burnt child murderer wasn't the only reason the movie disappointed at the box office, but his Freddy didn't hold a candle to Robert Englund's.

"Jackie Earle Haley's Freddy is less flamboyant than Robert Englund's," Empire Online said, "but he's a compact, menacing presence all the same." As IGN points out, Haley's makeup was "oddly restrictive, preventing him from being fully expressive." And the issue of Englund's involvement in a Freddy vs. Jason sequel isn't the only hangup — pitting Jason, Freddy, and Ash against one another could mean a different actor would also have to step in for Bruce Campbell as Ash.

In an interview with Syfy promoting Ash vs. Evil Dead Season 3, Campbell alluded to retiring Ash sooner than later. "Who says I haven't [hung up the chainsaw]? We've finished [filming] Season 3 of Ash vs. Evil Dead," Campbell laughed. "At the end of that season, it could go anywhere or nowhere, if we don't get renewed for Season 4!" Campbell is nearly 60, which makes it probable he's close to hanging up the boomstick for good. Seriously, who'd replace Robert Englund and Bruce Campbell?

Without Wes Craven's seal of approval, a sequel would feel inauthentic

Horror maestro Wes Craven passed away from brain cancer on August 13, 2015. And while it's safe to say the resurgence of Freddy Krueger in another film seems inevitable, without Craven's seal of approval, it will all feel a bit inauthentic. According to Bloody-Disgusting, there has been a new A Nightmare on Elm Street project in development for some time. But when one thinks of iconic horror villains — and the franchises they've spawned — it's hard not to think of the creators behind the nightmarish monsters as well.

Sure, the likes of Frankenstein and Dracula will continue to surface throughout popular culture, and it's safe to say Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger will inevitably return to the big screen in some way, shape, or form. But, with Craven's recent passing, it still feels too soon for Krueger to terrorize fans again. 

All one has to do is look to Blumhouse's Halloween reboot — which brings John Carpenter back to the world he created — to see how to pay homage and properly return to a much adored horror franchise. When all is said and done, it may behoove filmmakers to give his much-beloved movie monster a much-needed break from the big screen.

It already happened in the comics

It's unfortunate to think creative differences kept Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash from hitting the big screen. According to Syfy, part of the problem was New Line Cinema's reluctance to have Ash kill off Freddy. Robert Englund explained the issue at Emerald City Comic Con, saying, "New Line Cinema was against it because I had just had my ass kicked by Jason; they were afraid, 'cause I was the most successful of the three franchises, they were afraid. 'We can't have Freddy killed twice in a row.' And I was like, 'Wait a minute, guys. You revived me, you resurrected me with dog urine! It's real easy to bring Freddy back. Come on. That's not that hard to do."

Tired of waiting for the movie to happen, the folks over at Dynamite/Wildstorm Entertainment put ink to panel and turned the epic face-off fans had been fiending for to life. From 2007 to 2008, the story played out in a six-issue comic book series. IGN reviewed the series, beginning with Issue #1, titled "The Nightmare Warriors," stating, "As long as you expect nothing more than a campy romp, there is certainly fun to be had."

A possible trip back into development hell

Freddy vs. Jason was first pitched in 1987. It was a great time for both movie monsters, as Jason Lives and Dream Warriors had helped revitalize both franchises. It wasn't until the 1993 release of Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, though, that audiences were truly teased for the team-up. In the final moments of that film, a simple visual showing Freddy's glove grabbing Jason's mask sent speculation through the roof regarding the pending meeting of these genre greats.  

And then audiences waited another ten years before seeing the gory glory play out. As Birth Movies Death notes, Freddy vs. Jason spent 16 years in development hell, with a variety of screenwriters (Brannon BragaRonald D. Moore, and Peter Briggs, to name a few) taking a stab (pun intended) at the big genre crossover. A number of bonkers ideas were pitched before the final film was greenlit — including the concept that Freddy Krueger was an abusive Crystal Lake counselor to a young Jason Voorhees and a pitch that put Jason on trial for murder. 

New Line ended up moving forward with Freddy vs. Jason in 2002 with a script from Baywatch writing duo Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, which included some heavy rewrites from genre heavyweight David S. Goyer (Batman Begins, Krypton) among others. With the complicated history of the project in mind, one can only imagine the creative differences a prospective sequel would fall victim to — not to mention the complicated mess of movie rights that'd most certainly come with it.

It's a legal can of worms

When thinking of the logistics, and subsequent production problems, that'd come with an undertaking such as this, one of the first hurdles a Freddy vs. Jason sequel would be met with is the complicated issue of movie rights. When the 2003 crossover hit theaters, Warner Bros. still had the rights to the Friday the 13th franchise, while New Line Cinema — part of Warner Bros. — was known as "the house that Freddy built."

Since 2003, some interesting happenings have transpired. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. handed their Friday the 13th rights to Paramount — the franchise's original studio during its first eight films — in order to have a stake in Christopher Nolan's Interstellar. The deal led to some quick movement on Paramount's part to put a sequel for the 2009 reboot into play. But that project hit roadblock after roadblock, never once getting completely off the ground.

As Slashfilm noted in 2013, Paramount had five years to make a project happen. After that, the rights would once again be under Warner Bros.' control. Good news, right? Nope. There's a lot of complicated ground to cover here, and we've only just cracked the surface of the barrage of legal issues the Friday the 13th franchise has faced. A recent dispute over statutory ownership has muddied the waters even more. Thankfully, YouTube channel Midnight's Edge made a helpful video that unpacks the whole bloody mess piece by piece. 

Sam Raimi's grudge

On the heels of Freddy vs. Jason's success, Sam Raimi was brought into the conversations to bring Evil Dead's Ash into the A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th worlds. Everyone was allegedly on the same page to make this happen … until the American remake of The Grudge — housed under Raimi's own Ghost House Productions banner — exceeded all box office expectations in 2004. According to Box Office Mojo, the film raked in an unexpected $187 million globally.

Inspired by the success of the film, Raimi made an unexpected pivot. According to Bloody-Disgusting, he'd come to a "verbal agreement" with New Line on the project, which was to be announced in October of 2004. Yet after the combined success of his 2002 Spider-Man film and The Grudge, he reportedly "reneged on the deal (and didn't inform anyone at New Line) by announcing he'd be remaking his 1981 The Evil Dead instead."

In 2013, the Fede Alvarez-directed Evil Dead remake arrived in theaters — and while it received mostly positive reviews, showcasing the visceral final girl heroics of Jane Levy (Suburgatory, Castle Rock) in the lead role, the return of the beloved horror property didn't end up fully pleasing the franchise's fandom. What they wanted was the chainsaw-wielding, boomstick-booming glory of Bruce Campbell's Ash. So thanks to The Grudge, everyone's favorite Deadite hunter never ended up going toe to toe with Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees.

Ash has taken the Deadite fight to TV

In 2015, Evil Dead fans everywhere were delivered a treat they never thought they'd receive: Bruce Campbell returned the Evil Dead franchise, this time starring in a continuation of the tale on television. With Ash vs. Evil Dead, Starz got the band back together by reuniting Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, and Campbell himself — the original team behind the 1981 horror classic — to continue the bumbling, bloody adventures of Ashley J. Williams. While promoting the second season of the series, Campbell took part in a Reddit AMA answer fan questions, and It wasn't long before the topic of the Freddy vs. Jason sequel was brought up.

"One of the main reasons why Ash vs. Jason vs. Freddy did not come to pass is because we couldn't control any other character other than Ash," Campbell explained. "That felt like a creatively bankrupt way to go. Not to mention, you're splitting the proceeds three ways with partners you might not want." While the team has resorted to creative ways to reference story details from Army of Darkness — Universal owns the rights to the third installment to the original Evil Dead film franchise — it's safe to say that Sam Raimi and company have continued to exercise their creative freedom on Ash vs. Evil Dead, and the results have been nothing short of gory-ous.

A Freddy vs. Jason sequel probably wouldn't even work

Even if fans forget the comic book that addressed the Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash story treatment, it's likely that a sequel to the 2003 crossover wouldn't work today. All one has to do is look at two modern trends to come to this conclusion: the rise of streaming services and Hollywood's obsession with prequels, reboots, and remakes.

Hypothetically, any new Nightmare or Friday the 13th would definitely bring in a big audience, but a prequel or reboot may be a more viable option. "At this point, if you were to redo it," Collider's John Campea argued, "get rid of the old stuff, because the fans for that aren't flocking out to see it anymore." Both franchises have already been rebooted with underwhelming results, but the idea of a prequel series — perhaps one produced by Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon — is an intriguing notion for sure. The combination of solid performances and smart writing leveraged against established horror properties has proven fruitful in a few recent prequel series, too — we're looking at you, Bates MotelHannibal, and The Exorcist.

The hype would be too huge to live up to

It seems cinematic universes have gradually taken over pop culture. Marvel is the top dog in this arena, with its MCU reigning supreme on the big and small screen. DC Entertainment has made a valiant effort to match Marvel's work — to varying degrees of success.

The shared world of Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees might seem to hold similar potential, but not all cinematic universes are built to last. Take Universal's Dark Universe, for example. So far, the attempt to revive the studio's iconic line of classic movie monsters including — 2014's Dracula Untold, which Vulture called "a dumb, lowest-common-denominator kind of movie," and 2017's The Mummy, of which Variety observed, "It keeps throwing things at you, and the more you learn about the ersatz intricacy of its 'universe,' the less compelling it becomes" — has provoked less excitement than the studio had hoped.

Which brings us back to the hype that would surround a new Freddy vs. Jason movie. Not only is this the longest gap between Friday the 13th movies, audiences now have too much engaging content at their fingertips. In a post-Walking Dead world, where undead viscera and zombie mayhem reaches the masses week in and week out, viewers have become accustomed — and arguably even numb — to the horror magic of cinema's past. And with so much time passed since 2003's epic horror mashup, it feels extremely daunting, and almost impossible, to put together a follow-up horror fans would truly enjoy.