January 29, 2021
By Eriq Gardner
Sean Cunningham alleges the studio has “systematically misaccounted” contingent compensation from the franchise.
Friday the 13th producer Sean Cunningham has launched a new lawsuit over net profits from the horror franchise. According to a complaint filed on Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, the studios distributing the films have “systematically misaccounted” contingent compensation.
Cunningham is already engaged in a battle with writer Victor Miller over rights. Now pending a ruling at the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, that case involves important copyright and labor issues and has delayed any reboot, new sequels, and other derivative works. As fans patiently wait the conclusion there, Cunningham is throwing himself into another big battle — this one against Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures, with “Hollywood Accounting” in the first lines, and talk of how Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings “lost” money soon following.
“This lawsuit presents the latest chapter of Defendants ‘Hollywood accounting,'” writes attorneys led by Douglas Johnson.
The Friday the 13th franchise has grossed more than $129 million, according to the complaint, but Cunningham says audits revealed there's been improper deductions of fees and bonuses, undervalued licenses, an underreporting of merchandizing revenue and pay TV income, and on and on. He also alleges that Paramount and Warner have redacted their “package” license agreements — preventing him from fully understanding the flow of money. He surmises that defendants' “withheld documents would reveal that the Pictures's distribution was structured to inequitably advance the interest of Defendants and favored third parties.”
The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to Paramount and Warner Bros. for comment.