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Happy campers? More like dying campers.
Just in time for Halloween, Peacock has announced that it has gone straight to series on Crystal Lake, a prequel drama based on the hit horror movie franchise Friday the 13th.
Bryan Fuller, the prolific television creator behind such shows as American Gods and Star Trek: Discovery, will write, showrun and executive produce the series, which will be produced by A24, the studio known for buzzy movies such as Everything Everywhere All at Once and this year’s horror one-two punch, X and Pearl.
Friday the 13th is the horror franchise that launched in 1980 and gave the world Jason Voorhees, the hockey-masked slasher who mostly kills in and around the verdant and idyllic grounds of Camp Crystal Lake (except for the rare jaunt to New York or outer space).
The movies birthed a TV series once before, as well as novels, video games and a host of merchandise as the franchise became part of pop culture.
The IP also got tangled in complex rights deals as it moved from Paramount to New Line and became caught in a years-long copyright dispute between the original movie’s director-producer Sean S. Cunningham and original screenwriter Victor Miller.
In May, Miller emerged victorious, giving him control over the script and original characters but not over the Friday the 13th title nor the concept of an adult Jason or even the hockey mask, which was only introduced in the third movie.
Miller; Marc Toberoff, the copyright attorney who repped Miller in the case; and Rob Barsamian serve as executive producers on the Peacock show, which is being described as a drama and may be likened to Bates Motel, the A&E series that ran from 2013 to 2017 and served as a prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 horror classic, Psycho.
Barsamian is the current holder of the rights not in Miller’s briefcase, including the title and the mask. That points to the two parties now working together on this project and that those elements could potentially show up at one point.
“I discovered Friday the 13th in the pages of Famous Monsters magazine when I was 10 years old and I have been thinking about this story ever since,” Fuller said in a statement. “When it comes to horror, A24 raises the bar and pushes the envelope and I’m thrilled to be exploring the campgrounds of Crystal Lake under their banner. And [NBCUniversal’s] Susan Rovner is simply the best at what she does. It’s a pleasure and an honor to be working with her again.”
For his part, Fuller has had a colorful track record. He is perhaps best known for such critically praised yet ratings-challenged favorites as Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies (on which he worked with Rovner during her tenure at Warner Bros. TV), Dead Like Me and Hannibal. He developed Star Trek: Discovery, American Gods and Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and was either let go from or departed all three for a variety of factors. Most recently, he exec produced the docuseries Queer for Fear: The History of Queer Horror. In keeping with the Halloween spirit, Fuller previously developed The Munsters reboot Mockingbird Lane for NBC, which ultimately aired as a special on the network.
“Friday the 13th is one of the most iconic horror franchises in movie history and we were dying to revisit this story with our upcoming drama series Crystal Lake,” said Rovner, chairman of entertainment content at NBCUniversal Television and Streaming. “We can’t wait to get to work with Bryan Fuller, a gifted, visionary creator who I’ve had the pleasure of being a longtime friend and collaborator, along with our incredible partners at A24, in this updated version for Peacock that will thrill long-standing fans of the franchise.”
Fuller is repped by WME and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
Lesley Goldberg contributed to this story.
Updated Oct. 31, 4:23 PM clarifying Barsamian’s involvement and rights status.
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Thomas Brodie Sangster