Neve Campbell Has Returned to Scream, but the Stakes Have Changed

Estimated read time 9 min read

The Big Picture

  • Neve Campbell returns to the Scream franchise for
    Scream 7
    , with Kevin Williamson directing. This comes after Melissa Barrera was controversially fired from the franchise.
  • Campbell was disrespected by pay offers previously, but now Spyglass is giving her what she deserves.
  • Horror franchises often return to the past to revive interest when struggling financially or critically.

March 12 brought huge news to the horror world when scream queen Neve Campbelltook to Instagram to announce that she is returning to the Scream franchise for Scream 7. Campbell wrote, in part:

“I’m very happy and proud to say I’ve been asked, in the most respectful way, to bring Sidney back to the screen and I couldn’t be more thrilled!!! Well actually I could. While I’ve been so incredibly lucky to make these films with both the master of horror Wes Craven and the wonderfully talented Matt and Tyler team, I’ve dreamt 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, Kevin Williamson is going to direct Scream

Campbell showed a picture of the title page for the “Untitled Scream 7” script, which is being written by Guy Busick (who also wrote 2021’s Scream and Scream VI), based on a story by Busick and James Vanderbilt. The addition of original Scream scribe Kevin Williamsonas director is honestly just as a huge a deal, as he is the one who developed the franchise’s core idea and wrote the first, second, and fourth films that were directed by Wes Craven. At the bottom of Campbell’s script were the words “Property of Spyglass Media Group.” As fans will recall, it was Spyglass that brought controversy on itself last November after the firing of Melissa Barrera. The studio also canceled the scheduled Scream 7, which would have been directed by Happy Death Day‘s Christopher Landon. Now, with Campbell and Williamson both returning, Scream 7 is back on, but with the stakes higher than ever.

Scream 1996 Film Poster


A year after the murder of her mother, a teenage girl is terrorized by a masked killer who targets her and her friends by using scary movies as part of a deadly game.

Release Date December 20, 1996

Runtime 111 minutes

Writers Kevin Williamson

Tagline Don’t answer the phone. Don’t open the door. Don’t try to escape.

Neve Campbell and Melissa Barrera Controversies Hurt The Scream Franchise

When it was revealed in 2021 that the Scream franchise was returning with a fifth movie, it became the first that wouldn’t be directed by Craven, as the legendary director had passed away in 2015. Still, there was optimism about the return of Ghostface, for not only were original stars Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette signed on, but so were rising talents Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega. To top it off, while no one could ever replace Craven, Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin of Radio Silence, the duo behind the brilliant Ready or Not, were tapped to helm the new film. 2022’s Scream was a success, both critically and financially, making $137 million worldwide, and a quick follow-up, 2023’s Scream VI, did even better, making $169 million; even though, for the first time in the franchise, Neve Campbell wasn’t part of it. The actress behind legendary Final Girl Sidney Prescott had decided to sit out due to, as she claims, Spyglass not wanting to pay her what she thought she was worth. It was frustrating, but fans swallowed the bad news and made the best of it. It was time for Sidney to take a break anyway, right?

Scream 7 was announced in 2023, not with Radio Silence directing this time, but Christopher Landon. Although there was no news on whether Neve Campbell would return, Melissa Barrea was back as the lead, Sam Carpenter, the daughter of killer Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich). Then came the shocker, when, on November 21, Variety revealed that Spyglass had fired Barrea from the project over her social media posts in support of Palestinians. Spyglass said Barrera’s comments “flagrantly crosses the line into hate speech,” a fairly radical reading of her rather anodyne statements. Just a day later came the news that Jenna Ortega was out as well, though sources insisted that this was because of her schedule. With both Barrera and Ortega out, Landon quit too, effectively killing the planned version of Scream 7and possibly the franchise as well.

Desperate Horror Franchises Often Try To Recreate the Magic of the Past

Neve Campbell felt like she’d been disrespected by the pay offered to her, so if Spyglass respected her worth and is finally giving her what she deserved, there is at least that bit of good news to hold onto. The fact that Campbell is being brought back isn’t a shocker, though the return of Kevin Williamson is not something that had been speculated about. Williamson is a talented writer, but he’s only directed one film, 1999’s Teaching Mrs. Tingle. No matter, it’s fitting that Spyglass is turning to Campbell and Williamson, for horror always goes back to the past when it’s in trouble.

Many horror franchises start hot with a clever idea, only for studios to keep repeating it over and over in endless sequels until the well runs dry. When money isn’t being made on an IP any longer, they return to the past, hoping to recapture the lost magic and revenues. We’ve seen it countless times in recent years. The Halloween franchise got so bogged down in outrageous sequels that they had Michael Myers as part of a cult in Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. With the series on the verge of going straight to DVD, Jamie Lee Curtis was brought back for Halloween H20, and all the bad sequels were wiped away. After the dud that was the follow-up, Halloween: Resurrection, the franchise was rebooted with Rob Zombie‘s remake.

When his Halloween II failed, Curtis was brought back yet again for a new David Gordon Green-directed trilogy that once more wiped away the previous sequels. It was just announced a few days ago that Halloween is coming back yet again as a TV series. A Nightmare on Elm Street did it 30 years ago when Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, and Craven came back for New Nightmare. When that didn’t make a lot of money, there was a 2010 remake which, although it made $115 million on a $35 million budget, got lousy reviews and didn’t spawn a sequel. A lawsuit has kept fans from seeing a Friday the 13th film since 2009 (which was a remake), but with that finally settled, Jason Voorhees is set to come back in a prequel TV series for Peacock.

Custom Image of Scream's Ghostface with a newspaper article as background Related

‘Scream’ Was Inspired by a Real-Life Murder Spree

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2022’s Netflix release, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, went back to the beginning by bringing back Sally Hardesty for the first time since the original film, even though the actress who played her, Marilyn Burns, died in 2014. Last year saw the returns of Tobin Bell as Jigsaw in Saw X and Ellen Burstyn as Chris MacNeil in Exorcist: Believer. One of those worked, while the other was a critical and financial failure (you know which is which). This is what horror does so often when a franchise is flagging financially and critically. Instead of growing and telling new stories, the strategy is to often return to the past in the hopes of righting a sinking ship.

It’s now Scream’s turn, but this time is significantly different. The tales of Ghostface and company weren’t creatively tapped out but at their peak. Nor was issue bad plots or poor box office returns, but real life and the firing of a talented and popular actress. The stakes of the Scream franchise have never been higher, putting more pressure and expectation on Scream 7 than any other installment in the franchise.

‘Scream 7’ Is a Make-or-Break Moment for One of Horror’s Biggest Franchises

Scream 5 and Scream 6 might have been hits, but they always kept one foot in the past, bringing back the original crew even though they didn’t add much to the new story. The announcement of Campbell and Williamson’s return may mean that the franchise is going to put both feet in the past, much like other horror franchises. However, for all we know, Sidney Prescott will again be used to promote a new cast rather than be the lead, or she could even die in the opening scene, but you have to think it will revolve around her because Scream needs what her past contributions mean. Horror gets away with going back to the past. It’s accepted, and if it doesn’t work, the next movie will simply just try something else.

Scream 7 can’t just be an okay film with lots of callbacks and Easter eggs that make us feel like it’s 1996 all over again. The franchise is at a true make-or-break moment. The controversy has become almost as big as the movies and some fans have sworn that they’re done with Scream. The only way to get them interested is through word of mouth by creating a Scream 7 so good and shocking that it will get seasoned, new, and skeptical fans alike in the theater. This could mean shocking deaths (outside of Dewey, every main character always feels safe), an unpredictable outcome, or a plot that goes in a different direction than the usual psycho obsessed with movies.

Going back to the past saved other horror franchises that were in trouble, but can it work this time? This is much bigger than overcoming bad sequels, but the erasure of someone’s character in a popular movie because a studio didn’t agree with their opinion. Will Scream fans stay away because of it, or can Kevin Williamson and Neve Campbell make a movie so good that we relent and give them one last chance? Let’s hope that the answer is yes. Despite the controversy it is mired in, Scream is just a movie franchise, and more than anything, movies are supposed to be fun and bring us together.

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