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Friday the 13th Lawsuit Looms; Trouble in Crystal Lake

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Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th. What is it about this franchise that always leads to some type of turmoil? According to THR the latest kerfuffle involves a lawsuit that was filed on Wednesday that will determine who holds rights and may license new film versions of the horror film classic Friday the 13th.

On one side of the battle is Victor Miller, who wrote the story for the original 1980 film and is credited with coming up with the characters for the many sequels and reboots. According to a complaint, he is looking to take advantage of a provision in copyright law that allows authors to terminate a grant of rights and reclaim ownership.

However, as many authors have learned (particularly those who once freelanced for Marvel Comics), those termination rights aren’t foolproof. If someone contributes material as a work-made-for-hire, then it’s the employer who is seen as the true statutory author with no possibility of rights termination.

Here, Horror, Inc., and the Manny Company are the plaintiffs, claiming in their lawsuit that Miller wrote Friday the 13th as a work-made-for-hire. Specifically, they say that in 1979, Sean Cunningham had the idea to capitalize on the success of the then-recently released horror film Halloween and went to Miller, with whom he had previously worked on a film titled Here Come the Tigers, to develop this idea.

Miller had never written a horror screenplay prior to his being hired by Cunningham and was guided in the process, and directly supervised, by Cunningham,” asserts the complaint. “Accordingly, Miller entered into an employment agreement with the Manny Company pursuant to which Miller wrote a screenplay for the Film as a work for hire (the ‘Screenplay’).

Georgetown Productions, a predecessor company of the plaintiff, is said to have taken the “bold risk” to finance the production in exchange for Manny Company’s assignment of rights. This happened, according to the complaint, after Cunningham had come up with the idea for a Friday the 13th film and took an ad out in Daily Variety to see if anyone was interested in funding the proposed film. As distributors called, Cunningham and Miller “began furiously working on the development of the Screenplay,” says the lawsuit.

Thirty-six years later, Miller is said to be trying to grab hold of rights with notices sent in June seeking termination effective on July 2018. The copyright registration is said to have listed Georgetown as the author.

As a result of Miller’s improper actions, a cloud has been placed on Horror’s rights in and to the popular and lucrative Friday the 13th movie franchise and has caused, and will continue to cause, both Horror and the Manny Company significant damages,” states the complaint. “In addition to seeking a declaration of the parties’ respective rights, the Manny Company seeks a determination that Miller has materially breached the Employment Agreement, has slandered Horror’s title in Friday the 13th, and has engaged in unfair trade practices.

The plaintiffs are represented by Bonnie Eskenazi and Julia Haye at Greenberg Glusker plus local counsel. Here’s the full complaint.

Friday the 13th

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Rest in Peace: Bill Gold, Iconic Movie Poster Designer, Passes Away at 97

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Sad news as it’s been confirmed that iconic graphic designer Bill Gold, who was responsible for creating thousands of film posters, has passed away in his Old Greenwich, Connecticut home at 97 years old.

Gold’s career stretched back decades to the early 40’s, where he designed posters for films like Yankee Doodle Dandy, The Big Sleep, and the classic Bogart/Bergman film Casablanca. Over the next several decades, Gold would work with directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, Ridley Scott, Stanley Kubrick, Desmond Davis, Oliver Stone, and many, many more. Some of his most famous works were done for many of Clint Eastwood’s westerns, William Friedkin’s The Exorcist, John Boorman’s Deliverance, Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, and a multitude of posters for the James Bond franchise.

Per THR, Gold is survived by, “…his wife, Susan, son Bob, daughter in-law Joanne, daughter Marcy, grandson Spencer, granddaughter Dylann and her fiancé Justin, great nephew Jaaron and “man’s best friend” Willoughby.”

We send our deepest condolences to his family in this sad time. However, we also send our gratitude for a man whose work fascinated and intrigued countless audiences over more than 70 years. I remember walking through a movie theater’s halls and delighting in looking at movie posters, imagining what their stories could hold. I can only believe that other children over the years looked at Gold’s work and wondered the same thing about those films.

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Will Billie Lourd Return in AMERICAN HORROR STORY Season 8?

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For those of you who might not know, Billie Lourd is the daughter of Carrie Fisher. She was one of the stars of Ryan Murphy’s horror-comedy series Scream Queens and has since followed Murphy over to the world of American Horror Story.

Lourd starred in the recent AHS: Cult and it looks like Deadline is confirming that she will return for the upcoming 8th season, which is rumored to be called AHS: Radioactive. Lourd will star alongside Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters and Kathy Bates, and Joan Collins, who will play Evan Peters’ grandmother.

Are you excited about this casting? Make sure to hit us up and let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!

American Horror Story is an anthology horror-drama series created and produced by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. The Emmy and Golden Globe-winning franchise is produced by Twentieth Century Fox Television.

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Live-Action F.E.A.R. Adaptation Coming To Machinima

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Screenwriter Greg Russo has signed a deal with Machinima to pen an adaptation of the F.E.A.R. video game franchise, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. The article did not specify whether the adaptation would be in the form of a film or a series.

Russo, who is a lifelong gamer, will work with Machinima on creating and developing the F.E.A.R. adaptation, although we don’t know much else at this point. Machinima are a subsidiary of Warner Bros., and it probably won’t surprise you to learn that the F.E.A.R. franchise has also been owned by WB since 2009. In other words, Warner Bros. were bound to give us a live action adaptation of F.E.A.R. at one point, so we’re not too surprised by this development.

Russo, who is also writing the scripts for the Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil reboots, was quoted as saying the following:

“As a lifelong gamer, it’s an absolute honor to partner with Machinima, the preeminent provider of digital content to gamers worldwide. F.E.A.R. holds a special place in my heart. I’m excited to bring my personal passion to this and future projects and can’t wait to see where our partnership goes from here.”

An acronym for First Encounter Assault Recon, the F.E.A.R. games focus on an elite task force who fight to stop Alma Wade, a young girl with incredible psychic powers, from tearing apart the fabric of reality. Legendary film director John Carpenter served as story consultant on the third game, which we awarded a highly positive review back in the day. We’ll bring you more on Machinima’s adaptation when it becomes availalbe.

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