25 Years and 5 Movies Later, Here’s How the ‘Scream’ Franchise Came to Be

In honor of the upcoming new film, let’s take a look back at the “Scream” that started it all 25 years ago.
Drew Barrymore, Scream

Do you like scary movies? That line at the start of “Scream” (1996) had instant meta connotations, coming as it did in a movie directed by horror master Wes Craven, who all but invented the modern scary movie. So what better director to mock the very genre he helped usher in? Craven was the mastermind behind hit films like “The Last House on the Left” (1972) and “The Hills Have Eyes” (1977), before embarking on one of the most creative slasher franchises of all-time, “Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984).

Twelve years later, Craven did the unthinkable and made a referential teen thriller sprinkled with references to horror movie “rules,” the modern-day media circus surrounding all things morbid, and subverted casting expectations. Plus, “Scream” crafted a new era of the final girl with Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell). The Ghostface Killer may have many identities across the four installments, with a fifth on the horizon for a January 2022 release, but one thing always stays the same: Sid relives her trauma, and fights back.

Original leads Campbell, David Arquette as gullible cop Dewey Riley, and Courteney Cox as reporter Gail Weathers have appeared in the whole franchise, spanning two decades. Emma Roberts, Rory Culkin, Adam Brody, Alison Brie, Hayden Panettiere, Liev Schrieber, Jada Pinkett Smith, Heather Graham, and Kristen Bell have also all come face-to-face with the Ghostface Killer onscreen.

Now, a decade after “Scre4m” premiered, and six years following the debut of the MTV spinoffScreamseries, “Scream 5” is finally arriving on January 14, 2022. This will be the first follow-up that Craven has not directed as the auteur died in 2015. The fifth film is helmed by “Ready or Not ” co-directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, with a script penned by “Zodiac” writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick.

Longtime “Scream” queen Campbell opened up about her initial apprehension to return to the iconic Woodsboro after Craven’s passing. “I genuinely was in two minds,” Campbell told Entertainment Weekly. “The idea of making these films without Wes Craven seemed challenging to me. I loved the man very much. But [directors] Matt and Tyler wrote me a letter, speaking of their appreciation and great respect for Wes Craven, and speaking of the fact that the very reason that they are directors today was because of these movies and because of Wes, and that meant a great deal to me.”

“From the second I walked on the set,” co-star Cox added, “I felt extremely emotional and felt a real missing and longing for him. I feel Wes would be so happy with the way Matt and Tyler have rebooted this franchise.”

Original “Scream” screenwriter Kevin Williamson also is an executive producer for the fifth film, which Arquette credited with putting the cast “at ease” during production. Could more original stars like Rose McGowan, Drew Barrymore, Matthew Lillard, or even Skeet Ulrich make appearances from beyond their fictional graves? All is possible in the “Scream” franchise.

As we all know too well, no matter what happens onscreen, someone has to plan the sequel because, let’s face it, these days you’ve got to have a sequel. In honor of the upcoming new film, let’s take a look back at the “Scream” that started it all 25 years ago.

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