Before I went into writing this piece, the news had not yet broken that David Gordon Green and Danny McBride were on board to reboot Halloween. I would’ve thought it was too good to be true at first because it wasn’t too long ago that John Carpenter and Blumhouse had made the announcement that another Halloween was on the horizon, which eventually turned into another false start for the franchise because they had not found the right story to move forward.
Yesterday’s Halloween news (which was confirmed by Carpenter on his Facebook page) was something horror fans needed to hear after another horror franchise hit what seems to be a permanent snag. Friday the 13th was on deck and was suddenly shut down this week with no new start in sight. If you add A Nightmare on Elm Street to the mix it would seem that the big three of horror have had a hard time returning to our multiplexes. The question then becomes, will we ever get these franchises back on the big screen where they belong?
Let’s begin with Friday the 13th. Even at the height of its popularity, Paramount Pictures has treated the franchise like a rotten stepchild. This is a film series that has brought in big bank for the studio but since they have never been critic darlings, Paramount has always seemed to be reluctant to truly embrace it. You would think a franchise that has made over $464 million worldwide and cracked the pop culture barrier would make them a wee bit proud but it has never been the case.
The only time Paramount seemed eager to be involved with the films was when they didn’t have them. After the release of Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, the rights were sold to New Line Cinema and they released the next two sequels in the franchise plus the horror movie death match up, Freddy vs. Jason. In 2003, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was given the remake treatment and proved to be a huge success with a gross of $107 million worldwide on a small $9.5 million budget. New Line Cinema was behind the remake and of course, once one remake is successful, other franchises come up to be revamped. One of those films would be Friday the 13th and since Paramount saw dollar signs on the horizon, they wanted back in the game. Paramount executives gave Platinum Dunes producers, who were also involved in the production, a license to use anything from the original films, including the title. Paramount was given the rights to distribute the film internationally and New Line retained U.S. distribution rights.
The Friday the 13th remake was released in 2009 and initially seemed like a grand success. The film earned $19 million on its opening night and $40 million during its opening weekend. By doing this, it broke two records: the highest-earning opening day for the film series and the highest-earning opening weekend for any horror film. For one weekend, the series was back on top and immediately there were talks of doing a sequel.
Things took a turn in its second weekend when the bottom seemed to fall out from the film. On its second Friday, the film earned $2,802,977—a decrease of 85.5% from its opening Friday, which is a huge example of front loading being on display. By the end of its second weekend, the film had earned $7,942,472—a decrease of 80.4% from the previous weekend. With that, it dropped from first to sixth place and by week three it fell completely out of the top ten. The film made $65 million on a $19 million budget, which is successful, but showed no signs of staying power.
That didn’t stop sequel talks from taking place. On October 1, 2009, Warner Bros. Pictures announced plans to release a sequel to the remake with an August 2010 release date but just as quickly as that announcement was made, we got our first taste of bad news. Warner Bros. announced on December 10, 2009, that the sequel had been pulled from the August 13 release slot and was now listed as “TBD” – to be determined.
On April 21, 2010, producer Brad Fuller announced on his Twitter page that a sequel to the 2009 remake was no longer in the works, declaring it, “dead — not happening.” In a later interview, Fuller explained that the making of the 2009 remake was a joint effort by Paramount and New Line, who both own portions of the Friday the 13th franchise. With the economy down, both studios are limiting the films that they produce each year, opting for lower risks and higher rewards. As such, films like Friday the 13th Part 2 were put on hold, with the hope that when the economy bounced back, they would move forward with the next installment. Seems a bit like studio spin if you ask me but I digress.
Fellow producer Andrew Form explained things a bit more clearly when he discussed the studio politics. Form said since neither studio wants to walk away from the production of a sequel and have it perform well without their involvement, thus making them look like “idiots”, the chance of having one studio being the primary producing house was rejected. Form and Fuller also mentioned that the Friday the 13th sequel may be a 3‑D film should it ever be green-lit for production.
On February 1, 2011, it was reported that a script for a sequel had been completed, which gave fans hope that things were moving forward again. That being said, it would be two years until we heard more news about the project. On June 5, 2013, it was reported that Warner Bros. relinquished their film rights to the Friday the 13th series back to Paramount as part of a deal that allowed Warner Bros. to co-produce Interstellar. One week later, Derek Mears, who played Jason in the remake, revealed that Paramount was working with Platinum Dunes to make a new installment “as fast as possible.” After altering the release date numerous times, Paramount set the film for a Friday, May 13, 2016 release date, giving fans another reason to celebrate.
In March 2015, it was announced TV writer Nick Antosca would write the script and on October 20, 2015, it was reported that the film would be pushed back to January 13, 2017.[ On December 3, 2015, it was announced that Aaron Guzikowski would now write a new script, but that same day, director David Bruckner, who was attached to direct, was reported to have left the project in late 2015. On May 31, 2016, Fuller announced that the reboot will be an origin story for Jason and his mother will be in the film. On August 8, 2016, it is reported that Breck Eisner is in talks to direct the reboot. Keep in mind all these movements become the story on any entertainment publication, which further showcased the starts and stops the new film has seen since 2009.
The next bit of news was the ultimate high and low for any fan of the franchise. It was revealed in September 2016 that the reboot will be pushed back by Paramount, and is to be released on Friday, October 13, 2017. On January 27th, 2017, it was reported that shooting would begin in spring 2017 and they were looking for someone to play a young Jason Voorhees again asserting that it would be released on Friday, October 13, 2017, with the working title of Friday the 13th, Part 13. On February 6, 2017, it was announced that the film was pulled from the schedule and officially shut down. Just like that, after eight years of toying with the emotions of the fans, the franchise was dead with no real signs of making a comeback. If you want to add more insult to injury, The CW was developing a TV series based on the franchise but that too was pulled in August of 2016 because the network “had better pilots.”