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LeBron James is Really in Talks to Revive ‘Friday the 13th’

After the success of Michael Myers’ brand-new makeover, Jason Voorhees and his machete could rise again.
Friday The Th
Paramount Pictures
By  · Published on October 23rd, 2018

There’s just a little over a week of spooky season 2018 left — that is, October — but the entertainment industry is still churning out fresh horror news that’s keeping the genre well and truly alive. Of course, considering the Hollywood horror heyday that’s been steadily happening for a while now, the fact that we can still find ways to stay invested in various scary movie projects on an increasingly mainstream scale is not thoroughly surprising. Although, that doesn’t stop us from being intrigued when unexpected team-ups arise.

Our own Pierce Singgih already has us pumped examining the ways in which more basketball stars are solidifying their status on the big screen, having covered Shaquille O’Neal’s latest stab at film producing with a brand-new documentary. But specifically on the horror front, LeBron James is apparently vying to turn himself into a formidable Hollywood producer as well. Bloody Disgusting first reported and Deadline later confirmed that James’ production house, SpringHill Entertainment, is teaming up with Roy Lee‘s Vertigo Entertainment to resurrect the Friday the 13th franchise.

That’s right, almost exactly a decade after Jason Voorhees and his trademark hockey mask was last seen on the big screen, he could very well rise again. Deadline reports that original Friday the 13th screenwriter Victor Miller recently reclaimed the film rights to the franchise after a legal scuffle with Sean S. Cunningham, who had helmed the 1980 movie. Miller subsequently brought them to SpringHill and Vertigo directly. The project is said to be in flux as it navigates through preliminary stages and currently searches for writers and directors.

Frankly, the sprawling franchise that is Friday the 13th┬áneeds no introduction. Jason has made enough appearances across multiple media platforms — in video games, comics, novels, documentaries, and the like — and the world will likely recognize his iconic mask and machete. The movies themselves, though, truly make up an 11-installment extravaganza.

A relatively simple story about a mother’s twisted reaction to the loss of her son spawned an entire series about an indestructible killing machine. The Friday the 13th series rapidly evolved to imbue its masked antagonist with immortality and superhuman tendencies. The franchise then only got more ridiculous each time Jason returned for another round of slicing and dicing. At the very least, Friday the 13th came to embrace its ludicrous concept, incorporating humor into the later movies and further stretching the confines of its own bizarre universe through crossovers.

Nevertheless, the quest to spark modern-day interest in Jason’s slasher crusades has been rocky since then. The Michael Bay-produced Friday the 13th reboot, which came out in 2009, reveals itself to be a mixed bag. The movie grossed a total of $92.7 million worldwide against a $19 million budget. Plot-wise, it re-envisions the first four Friday the 13th films and introduces various updates to the Voorhees lore, but it also, unfortunately, repackages them with a fresh set of insufferable and cliched protagonists.

A potential follow-up to that Friday the 13th reboot was planned soon after but the possible sequel was stuck in development hell for years. Between 2009 and 2017, the Friday the 13th film rights changed hands from Warner Bros. to Paramount after the studios partnered up on the remake in the first place. And besides courting various screenwriters and directors (notably The Ritual‘s David Bruckner and The Crazies‘ Breck Eisner), Paramount eventually axed the movie entirely after the underperformance of Rings, the third installment of The Ring film series.

As of now, the report that James and Lee are working to reawaken Jason from the “dead” once more relies heavily on timing. Whispers of another reboot wouldn’t have been possible without David Gordon Green’s wildly successful Halloween sequel, which has captivated both critics and the box office alike after its opening weekend alone. Coincidentally, finding out about a new Friday the 13th┬ámovie in this way also provides an amusing parallel to the initial birth of the franchise in the first place. Friday the 13th was, after all, notably directly inspired by John Carpenter’s original Halloween. So, will James’ and Lee’s movie also work in a little retconning of its own? Obviously, the process is pretty familiar to the franchise as it is.

I’ll be real and say that Friday the 13th is my least favorite horror franchise to come out of the golden age of slasher flicks. It all begins with the original, too. Granted, the killer reveal in the first film gives that pseudo-origin story some oomph. A selection of the murders are rather unsettling, and the movie excels in technical aspects such as music. That said, there’s a distinct lack of palpable or consistent atmosphere in Friday the 13th, making it duller than a horror film should be. There are no characters to relate to or even care about either, which dilutes the intended impact of the violence, even if it is noteworthy in its goriness.

Yet, this franchise has Jason, an antagonist with a haunting design and the potential to really terrify. Virtually nothing is known about what James and Lee plan to do with Friday the 13th, but the series created such an indelible character in pop culture and he could do well in a refreshed setting.

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Sheryl Oh often finds herself fascinated (and let's be real, a little obsessed) with actors and their onscreen accomplishments, developing Film School Rejects' Filmographies column as a passion project. She's not very good at Twitter but find her at @sherhorowitz anyway. (She/Her)