Back in the '80s, rarely did a year go by without a new installment in Paramount's Friday the 13th slasher franchise. Following 1989's 8th film - the infamous Jason Takes Manhattan - Friday the 13th entries became a significantly rarer occurrence, with the series moving to New Line. Jason ultimately returned for more mayhem in 1993's Jason Goes to Hell, 2001's Jason X, and 2003 blockbuster brawl Freddy vs. Jason before finally ending up the latest horror property to receive a reboot in 2009. Despite a good amount of criticism from diehard fans for changes to Jason's character, Friday the 13th (2009) made a whole bunch of money, making a sequel seemingly inevitable. Unfortunately, Mr. Voorhees has since found himself in a different type of hell, this time of the development variety.
With Friday the 13th's rights now back in Paramount's loving(?) embrace, it seemed like fans of the hocked-masked murderer were finally in for a return to the big-screen, as a new film - another reboot - was dated for 2015. Sadly, that date was then pushed back to 2016, and subsequently 2017. Rumors of found footage-style Jason shenanigans danced uncomfortably in fans' heads, as it seemed like the F13 franchise was in creative disarray. Things got even weirder when a TV series starring Jason was greenlit by The CW of all networks, although that proposed reworking of the movies ended up not panning out. Still, at least the found footage thing didn't happen.
With Friday the 13th seemingly in a state of constant flux, producer Brad Fuller - of Platinum Dunes, who also worked on the 2009 film - has seemingly gone out of his way to try and quell fans' fears during a recent chat with This is Infamous:
“We have a great writer – Aaron Guzikowski is writing the script. Aaron wrote Prisoners. He’s a better writer than we deserve for this franchise. He’s fantastic. The script that he has come up with is really great, and we got it a couple weeks ago. We gave our notes to Aaron, the studio gave their notes to Aaron, and we’re waiting for the script to come back.
“Yes, there have been false starts – some of them self-created. I didn’t want to do a found footage version of that movie, and there were some people who wanted that to happen. As long as that was the case, I was dragging my feet because I thought we’d get killed. And it just didn’t feel like the right way to make the movie. We are on the right track now to make the movie the right way.”
While Fuller's heart and head seem to be in the right place here, fans aren't likely to forget that similar assurances were made before Jason's polarizing 2009 revamp was unleashed on audiences. The film wasn't near-universally despised like Platinum Dunes' 2010 remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street, but those who had grown up with the series weren't exactly thrilled to see a now oddly-intelligent Jason who kidnaps and holds women hostage instead of just killing them and appears to be cultivating marijuana in the woods of Crystal Lake in the hopes of luring in teenage victims.
On the other hand, the nearly decade-long delay in putting out another Friday the 13th movie suggests that perhaps Fuller and company have learned from their previous mistakes, as the box office gross of F13 (2009) would have made a quickie cash-in sequel two years after the fact perfectly understandable from a purely business standpoint. Fuller's rejection of bringing the franchise into the found-footage realm also puts him squarely on the same side as most fans, who were largely horrified by the idea of a grainy Jason hacking up teens while the camera shakes in a manner likely to make certain folk nauseous. Here's hoping that the 2017 date sticks, and Jason can finally reclaim his spot at the top of the horror genre.
Friday the 13th is currently scheduled to debut in theaters on January 13, 2017.