An Open Letter to New Line Cinema, Platinum Dunes and Friday the 13th Fans
Jason junkies, cinema snobs and everyone in between, welcome to our corner of Friday the 13th fandom! For those of you living at the bottom of a lake, a month ago Variety reported that New Line enlisted Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes to develop a remake of Friday the 13th, remixing elements of the first four films. This is your friendly, neighborhood webmaster Blake Washer, and for the last thirty days Iíve been listening to the reaction of fans, talking to friends and turning over my thoughts on this development. The one question Iíve inexorably returned to is ďWhy?Ē
In 1992, Jason jumped ship - and I donít mean the boat in Jason Takes Manhattan. Sean Cunningham came back into the picture and brought Our Man Voorhees with him to New Line Cinema, home of fellow slasher icon Freddy Krueger. Though they had to wait another ten years, the pairing paid off. Freddy vs. Jason was the most successful film of both franchises and number one at the box office in the US for two weeks. Now just three years after, the Friday the 13th series is being restarted. Remade. Reimagined. Why?
Freddy vs. Jason wasnít New Lineís only 2003 horror hit. The Platinum Dunes-produced Texas Chainsaw Massacre inexpensively resurrected Leatherface and his kin to great success. The genesis of the Friday the 13th remake is obvious. The difference is, Texas Chainsaw Massacre was a dead franchise and never much of a series to begin with. Each of the sequels featured dramatically different takes on Leatherface and his family (including the last, a reboot attempt itself). So while many fans werenít sold on the need for a remake, it wasnít preventing something else from getting off the ground. Same situation with Platinum Dunesís (non-New Line) second rehash, The Amityville Horror.
If the remake leaves Jasonís character largely unchanged, whatís the point of doing a remake at all? It would be just as easy and far more attractive to fans to do a proper sequel and fill in necessary backstory through flashbacks. Audiences would love a dark, definitive Friday the 13th sequel. If the reason for starting over is a dramatic change to the Voorhees saga (producer Brad Fuller says, ďwe will make it a distinctively different storyĒ), what about the worldwide recognition of who and what Jason is? What about the audience that made Freddy vs. Jason a hit three years ago? The series has a definite mythos and deconstructing Jason unravels that legend as well as the licensing opportunities tied to it (books, comics, toys, etc.) Itís hard to see the purpose of rewriting twenty-five years of history.
So who am I to be second-guessing The House That Freddy Built? I donít hide my admiration for New Line Cinema, and Iím not trying to give anyone a hard time. Iím not calling for a petition, or a boycott. I just want people, producers and fans, to understand where Iím coming from. Iíve been at this for nine years. So to spend all this time and effort carving out a place for Friday fans but keeping quiet when I see the one thing that could finally kill Jason coming to pass... well, Iíd feel a bit of a fool not speaking up.
The question is ďWhy?Ē Why fix what isnít broken? I donít expect a satisfactory answer, but I have to ask.
March 14, 2006
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