The 80s Slasher Universe: An Answer to When and How it Can Happen - Freddy vs. Jason vs. Michael vs.
I keep seeing all of these articles about how one of the six major studios may tie in all of the 1980s slashers into one fluid cinematic universe. As a fan of horror, I think this idea would be fun, after all Jason Vorhees, Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, and Leatherface are horror icons in the same way the Universal Movie Monsters are. And Universal is on the fast track now putting together their shared Monster Universe. So can the 80s horror slashers have their own universe? I crunch the numbers and go deep into the research to find out.
Friday the 13th
The original Friday the 13th came out in 1980 by producer Sean Cunningham who gave Paramount domestic rights and Warner international. In 1990 after 8 Friday the 13th films with Paramount as the main engine behind creation (normally the domestic distributor has the most control during production), in 1990 Cunningham went to New Line to make Freddy vs. Jason. It took 13 years for this monster mash-up to happen and within those 13 years Cunningham and New Line created the Jason Trilogy within the Friday the 13th canon. Here’s the official canon:
Friday the 13th (1980)
Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
Warner / New Line
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
Jason X (2001)
Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
Paramount / Platinum Dunes
Friday the 13th (2009)
Now, and this is where it gets tricky, in 1990 there were two comedy networks on cable television. The Comedy Channel was owned by Time Warner and HA! was owned by Paramount. These two comedy networks merged and became Comedy Central. Later full ownership of Comedy Central was given to Paramount, but Warner still held a stake in South Park, allowing them international distribution rights for the 1999 South Park movie and any future South Park sequel.
Nolan made five films with Warner Brothers (Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception and The Prestige). In 2014 Warner didn’t want to lose Nolan as a director, so they offered up all the rights to Friday the 13th and South Park to Paramount in exchange for international distribution of Interstellar. Paramount agreed. But there’s a catch as Paramount only has the exclusive rights to both a second South Park film and another Friday the 13th until 2019. So after 2019, Warner could potentially crossover Freddy and Jason once more.
But if you notice Paramount did make a Friday the 13th reboot with Michael Bay’s company Platinum Dunes. And surprisingly Michael Bay is where things get interesting.
Nightmare on Elm Street
New Line has always distributed the Freddy films. All seven films, which are all actually pretty damn good were produced and distributed by New Line / Warner. Here’s the official canon:
Warner / New Line
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 6: Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 7: Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)
Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
Warner / New Line / Platinum Dunes
A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
Notice anything familiar? That’s right, Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes rebooted another 80s slasher in 2010 with their rendition of A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Halloween since The Curse of Michael Myers has been distributed by Dimension, but produced by Miramax. Long ago Miramax was run by the brothers Weinstein and was a studio at Disney (Miramax itself is a combination of the names of the Weinstein’s parents, Miriam and Max). Dimension was the banner Miramax would release horror films under. But the Weinsteins left Disney and Miramax behind forming the Weinstein Company and they even got to keep Dimension in the process. Now Miramax is an independent company.
Recently Miramax dropped Dimension and is looking for a new partner, which could mean if they chose Warner Brothers, then we could get a Michael Myers vs. Freddy Krueger crossover. If they decide they want to go with Paramount then we could have a Michael Myers vs. Jason Voorhees event. If they wait until 2019 then we may finally get all three in one movie together.
Halloween II (1981)
Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
Miramax / Dimension
Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
Halloween 8: Resurrection (2002)
Halloween II (2009)
Miramax / ??
Halloween 11 (20??)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Making sense of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise is like making sense of the X-Men timeline continuity, you really can’t. But I’ll sure as hell try.
Tobe Hooper created the original masterpiece that is still plenty scary. Here’s the official canon:
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990)
Texas Chainsaw Massacre 4: The Next Generation (1995)
New Line / Platinum Dunes
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)
Lions Gate / Millennium
Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013)
Lions Gate and Millennium still hold the rights and have Leatherface, a prequel to the original 1974 film coming out this year. And they have the option to keep making more. But as you can see the 2003 reboot and it’s prequel were produced by none other than Platinum Dunes and New Line (Warner). With the lackluster success of “The Beginning” in 2006 they decided to get out of the chainsaw business and hand the franchise off to Millennium and Lions Gate.
So Where Does This Leave Us
With so many sequels made and distributed by so many different companies it is really hard to keep up. Here’s who owns the current franchise rights:
Friday the 13th - Paramount
A Nightmare on Elm Street - New Line Warner
Halloween - Miramax
Texas Chainsaw Massacre - Lions Gate / Millennium
So it looks as so, currently, that we can’t have any of these franchises crossover. It seems almost impossible, except for the Michael Bay factor. Platinum Dunes has rebooted three of these franchises over the last 15 years. The only one they didn’t touch was Halloween because it was already being recreated by Rob Zombie at Miramax. Now let’s say Miramax joins forces with New Line Warner, then it could technically be possible for Platinum Dunes to come in and attempt to tie together all of the rebooted films they have created. After all it seems like that was going to be the plan. But it’s been years since Platinum Dunes has had a hand in any of these franchises, although they do have a huge first look deal with Paramount and could potentially make the 13th Friday the 13th film. In 2014 there were rumors that Paramount and Platinum Dunes want to make the 13th film another reboot that will be filmed as a found footage film. So Bay is still very involved with Friday it seems.
I’d say there’s a 5% chance of these 80s horror icons crossing over with each other over the next five years. I think after 2020, when everyone is exhausted after having seen a bunch of Justice League and Avengers: Infinity War films that we’ll want to move on from superheroes and get more in touch with our 80s nostalgia. I think there’s a 60% chance of this happening within the next decade, aka 2020-30. Maybe they can’t collect all four of these slashers into one film, maybe it’ll just be three of them. But I think it will happen. And honestly I think Michael Bay might be the man to do it.
Freddy vs. Jason vs. Michael vs. Leatherface