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Here's Why There Hasn't Been A Friday The 13th Movie In Over A Decade

Friday the 13th is one of the most popular horror movie franchises of all time. Among horror movie icons, Jason Voorhees' name is right up there with Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers and Jigsaw. Voorhees has starred in an astounding 12 movies, the first nine of them coming in a particularly productive stretch between 1980 and 1993. A brief hiatus after this initial run led to the critically panned Jason X, in which the slasher villain winds up aboard a spaceship in the future. The cult favorite crossover film Freddy vs. Jason renewed fans' interest in the monster, but audiences haven't received a new addition to the franchise since the somewhat subpar 2009 remake.

Still, Friday the 13th is a beloved franchise with a loyal fan base, so it's surprising that Jason Voorhees has remained dormant for more than a decade. From legal battles to creative difficulties, studios face firm obstacles in any effort to revive this legendary series. Here's why we haven't seen a new Friday the 13th movie in so long.

Legal troubles plague the 'Friday the 13th' franchise

In recent years, Friday the 13th has been trapped in a legal fight between Sean S. Cunningham, the director of the original film and the producer of several sequels, and Victor Miller, who wrote the franchise's first installment. The two men and their legal teams have been battling in court with mixed results. According to Screen Rant, the court initially found that Miller held the rights of Friday the 13th. But Cunningham appealed, the case returned to court in February 2020, and there still hasn't been an official ruling. The clash boils down to whether Miller was a work-for-hire; if a judge decides he was, Cunningham would likely own the copyright for the movie and its characters.

On top of that, there are the movie studios. Friday the 13th was initially a Paramount Pictures property, but the studio sold it to New Line Cinema after Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan tanked both financially and critically. Now, Warner Brothers co-owns the series with New Line, and while they may have interest in property, the lawsuit between Miller and Cunningham has so far prevented any meaningful progress toward another movie.

'Friday the 13th' might be creatively exhausted

Even when the lawsuit between Miller and Cunningham is resolved, making the 13th installment of the series could be challenging. Any subject of 12 movies of material would be at risk of overexposure, and it's fair to argue that's what happened with the Friday the 13th plotline. This franchise became a victim of excess. During the '80s, a new Friday the 13th film practically came out every year. It's no wonder that the later additions to the franchise were a steep drop-off from their comparably solid predecessors. Though the franchise has had time to breathe, some fans may wonder where filmmakers could possibly go with the character. Jason Voorhees has already taken Manhattan and ventured into space. Plus, there are only so many ways to make his typical summer camp setting interesting, especially since several previous films have already run that concept into the ground.

The 2009 Friday the 13th remake tried to update the character's classic origin and put it in a contemporary context. So fans may not flock to the theaters to see a potential 13th film follow the same approach. On the other hand, new audiences may find a movie that relies too heavily on the franchise's deep mythos to be a turnoff. Neither approach seems perfect, so future filmmakers could have some difficulty in any attempt to make another Friday the 13th film.