Larry Zerner Breaks Down This Week’s Oral Arguments in the ‘Friday the 13th’ Case; May/June Decision Expected


Yesterday was a pretty big day for the Friday the 13th franchise, marking the eleventh anniversary of the 2009 remake – which quite depressingly means that it’s been eleven years since we last saw Jason Voorhees – as well as the latest round of oral arguments in the messy legal battle over the franchise’s rights: Sean Cunningham/Horror Inc. vs. Victor Miller.

Long story short, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has been tasked with deciding if Miller retains ownership of the original film’s script (back in 2018, a trial judge had ruled that the U.S. rights go to Miller after all these years under the Copyright Act’s termination right) or if those rights will revert back to Cunningham, and oral arguments took place yesterday.

As always at a time like this we turn to Friday the 13th Part 3 star and entertainment lawyer Larry Zerner, who has provided a full breakdown of yesterday’s events over on Twitter.

The basic gist here is Cunningham/Horror Inc. are arguing that Miller was a hired employee when he wrote the original Friday the 13th script, meaning he never should’ve been able to claim the rights to that script in the first place. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals, Zerner says, should decide in May or June of this year whether or not that argument holds any water.

Zerner explains, “The court can do one of three things. 1) Affirm that Victor won and he owns the rights to the first F13, 2) Reverse and say that Sean owns all the rights or 3) Send it back to the district court for a trial.” He adds, “If I had to pick, I would bet that the court affirms and holds that Victor owns the rights (but you never know). If either side loses, they can appeal to the Supreme Court, but very unlikely that the S.Ct. would accept the case.”

If Miller wins this latest battle, as Zerner predicts, it would still mean that he’ll eventually have to work with Cunningham in order for the franchise to be brought back to life – Miller, after all, only owns the rights to the original script and the characters and elements present in it; this does not include the adult, hockey-mask wearing Jason Voorhees, who did not appear in that film. A win from Cunningham, however, would potentially make the road to Jason’s return a whole lot shorter. No matter who wins, the case could be going to the Supreme Court next.

In other words, don’t expect a neat bow to be put onto this one in May/June.

For the full breakdown, check out Zerner’s complete Twitter thread down below.