Paramount gains rights to Jason and “Friday the 13th”

June 6, 2013

One of the biggest hold-ups to a sequel to the 2009 remake of FRIDAY THE 13TH was that there were just too many studios involved and it was a rights nightmare. Finally, breaking news comes out of the Hollywood Reporter who writes that Paramount Pictures has officially landed the franchise rights, which also include Jason Voorhees and his likeness. This is pretty big news as we should expect a sequel to get announced soon.

When Paramount and Warner Bros. teamed up on Christopher Nolan’s latest movie project, Interstellar, in January, some wondered how Warners made its way on board a project set up at a rival studio…

Now, months later, THR has learned more about the price that Warners had to pay in exchange for half the Nolan project. The cast of characters includes Friday the 13th villain Jason Voorhees as well as the characters of South Park.

Warners, which released Nolan’s megagrossing Batman movies and maintains an overall deal with his Syncopy label, wanted in on Interstellar so badly it gave Paramount its rights to co-finance the next Friday the 13th horror film as well as its portion of a future “South Park” movie. Also part of the deal was an agreement to let Paramount co-finance a to-be-determined A-list Warners property.

Warner Bros. and Paramount declined to comment on the arrangement.

The original Friday was made in 1980 by producer Sean Cunningham with investments from Boston theater owners. Paramount got domestic distribution rights; Warners had international. Eventually, the rights reverted back to Cunningham, who took them to New Line Cinema in the 1990s as part of an attempt to jumpstart a Freddy vs. Jason movie (with the villain from A Nightmare on Elm Street). That process took more than 10 years, and in the meantime, New Line made two other Friday the 13th movies (using the character in the title; Jason Goes To Hell and Jason X).

When it came time for New Line, now part of Warner Bros., to develop a Friday remake/reboot, it was revealed that Paramount had certain rights to the original and had to be brought in as 50-50 partners. Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes ended up producing 2009′s Friday the 13th, which grossed a respectable $91 million for Paramount and Warners on a budget of less than $20 million.

Efforts to launch a sequel to the rebooted Friday as well as a second “South Park” movie were complicated due to both studios having a share in them. So Warners decided to sacrifice Jason and Cartman for a deal on Nolan’s Interstellar, thus maintaining its relationship with the filmmaker and snagging a piece of what could be another Inception.

So basically, Warner Bros. gave up the rights to Jason Voorhees and South Park so they could make hundreds of millions off of Nolan’s next movie. With Nolan’s track record, the movie could break a billion dollars at the box office.

However, there is a catch: Sources say Paramount only enjoys the rights for both titles for the next five years and has that amount of time to make follow-up movies.

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