More ‘Friday the 13th’ Lawsuits in the Works

by Jen Bernardini

Sean Cunningham, a Connecticut native and producer of several Friday the 13th films, is in the midst of a lawsuit with Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures which claims the studios have “systematically misaccounted” contingent compensation from the Friday the 13th franchise, according to The Friday the 13th franchise has grossed more than $129 million, but according to the filed complaint, Cunningham says that audits have revealed improper deduction of fees and bonuses, undervalued licenses, an underreporting of merchandise revenue, pay TV income and much more. He claims that Paramount and Warner Bros. have redacted their agreements, which have prevented him from understating the flow of money. Cunningham is essentially saying that he didn’t get his fair share of the profits and, at the time, he wasn’t aware of it because it was “removed” from the paperwork; now he’s looking to recoup the lost earnings.

This isn’t the first lawsuit regarding the franchise. Sean Cunningham/Horror Inc. and Victor Miller went to court to determine who owned the rights to the original Friday the 13th script. In 2018 a trial judge ruled that the rights went to Miller. Cunningham still disputes this finding. Cunningham’s argument, in this case, was that Miller was just a hired employee when he wrote the original Friday the 13th script so he should not have been able to claim ownership nor rights to the script.

The Friday the 13th franchise has been enmeshed in legal troubles for quite a while and, while the lawsuits have serious financial implications, they will also delay any reboots, new sequels, or other related works until they are resolved.

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