Scream queen Neve Campbell returns to horror franchise after big dramas

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Wenlei Ma
The Nightly
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Neve Campbell will be reprising her character Sidney Prescott in Sceam VII
Neve Campbell will be reprising her character Sidney Prescott in Sceam VII Credit: BROWNIE HARRIS

The beleaguered production of the seventh instalment of horror franchise Scream seems to be back on track following a raft of behind-the-scenes dramas.

Original star Neve Campbell revealed on Wednesday on Instagram she will be reprising her character Sidney Prescott, and that Scream creator Kevin Williamson will take over as director.

“It’s always been such a blast and an honour to get to play Sidney in the Scream movies,” Campbell wrote. “My appreciation for these films and for what they have meant to me has never waned.”

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Campbell’s return is a surprise after she sat out the sixth Scream movie over a salary dispute. She said in 2022, “As a woman, I have had to work extremely hard in my career to establish my value, especially when it comes to Scream.

“I felt the offer that was presented to me did not equate to the value I have brought to the franchise. It’s been a very difficult decision to move on.”

She said in separate interview with People, “I honestly don’t believe that if I were a man and had done five instalments of a huge blockbuster franchise over 25 years, that the number I was offered would be the number that would be offered to a man.”

Scream (1996)
Courtney Cox, Jamie Kennedy and Neve Campbell
Courtney Cox, Jamie Kennedy and Neve Campbell helped kick off the franchise. Credit: IMDB

Scream VI was the first movie in the franchise Campbell did not appear in.

Campbell’s renewed involvement in Scream VII rescues the film from an uncertain future after it became embroiled in several high-profile dramas.

The franchise had a soft reset for the fifth movie when it cast Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega as its leads. Both returned for the sixth movie and both numbers five and six were directed by Matt Bertinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett.

However, Barrera was sensationally sacked from the seventh movie by the production company, Spyglass, over what the business claimed was “antisemitism” and “hate speech”. Barrera had written posts on social media referring to the conflict in Gaza and the Israeli government’s actions as “genocide and ethnic cleansing”.

Director Christopher Landon a month later revealed he also left the project. At the time of Barrera’s firing, he had posted, “Everything sucks. Stop yelling, this was not my decision to make.”

It also emerged at the time that Ortega, who has since become a global superstar because of her lead role in Netflix series Wednesday, had exited the movie months earlier, before the Barrera controversy.

That left Scream VII with neither of its two leads nor a director.

Jenna Ortega and Melissa Barrera will not be returning to the Scream franchise.
Jenna Ortega and Melissa Barrera portrayed sisters in the fifth and sixth movies. Credit: Supplied

Williamson coming on as director for the seventh film will be his first time helming any Scream title. Williamson wrote the screenplay for the first two Scream movies as well as the fourth, and was a producer on the third and sixth chapters. He also has a “story by” credit on the pilot of the Scream TV spin-off.

Williamson had previously only directed 1999 teen thriller Teaching Mrs Tingle. Horror master Wes Craven directed the first four Scream movies before his death in 2015.

Campbell said of Williamson, “I’ve dream for many years of how amazing it would be to make one of these movies with Kevin Williamson at the helm. And now it’s happening.

“This was his baby and it’s his brilliant mind that dreamt up this world. Kevin is not just an inspiration as an artist but has been a dear friend for many years.”

Neve Campbell and Rose McGowan in Scream.
Neve Campbell and Rose McGowan in the first Scream movie. Credit: Supplied

The seventh Scream movie was written by Guy Busick from a story by Busick and James Vanderbilt.

When the first Scream movie launched in 1996, its success spawned a teen horror movie revival that would also include I Know What You Did Last Summer, Disturbing Behaviour, Urban Legend, Final Destination and The Blair Witch Project.

Many of these starred actors who were on popular American teen TV series at the time, including Buffy’s Sarah Michelle Gellar, Dawson’s Creek’s Katie Holmes and Joshua Jackson and Seventh Heaven’s Barry Watson. Campbell and Jennifer Love Hewitt were in the TV show Party of Five.

Campbell also appeared in The Craft, which was released six months before Scream and she would go on to be known as a slasher queen.

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