What Dracula and Frankenstein were to 1930s moviegoers, Freddy Krueger and Jason Vorhees were to 1980s horror film fans. But while both Dracula and Frankenstein belonged to Universal, Freddy was New Line Cinema’s property, and Jason was with Paramount, making any big-screen face-off a distant fantasy. Freddy and Jason would finally tangle in 2003, but most moviegoers didn’t realize how close they were to fighting 15 years earlier.
According to GQ, by the late 1980s, Jason’s dwindling box office numbers were being eclipsed two-to-one by Freddy Krueger, prompting Paramount to propose a crossover. Seems like a no-brainer now, but at the time, New Line knew Jason needed Freddy more than Freddy needed Jason, and the studio declined, resulting in the “Jason Meets Carrie”-esque Friday the 13th Part VII.
Both franchises were in very different places 15 years later. There had been seven total Nightmare on Elm Street movies by 2003, but none since 1994, while there were ten Friday the 13th movies, the latest just the year before in 2002. With both franchises having seen better days, their respective studios came to the table for Freddy vs. Jason. Its Rotten Tomatoes score is better than you’d expect (41% from critics and 50% from audiences), but its $116 million on a $30 million budget more than doubled what either franchise had ever achieved on their own. Sadly, a Freddy vs. Jason 2 (or Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash) remains only a dream.