Not even Ghostface could see this twist coming.
The “Scream” franchise lost two stars this week, putting the seventh film in the series in a creative conundrum, according to sources familiar with the project.
Variety broke the news that Melissa Barrera was fired by Spyglass, the film’s producer, in recent days for social media posts she deemed anti-Semitic (specifically, posts about the war between Israel and Hamas). That decision was made after the company was notified that Jenna Ortega, whose star has risen considerably since joining Wes Craven’s beloved horror series, would not be returning due to a scheduling conflict with the second season of her smash hit. Netflix hit “Wednesday.” Barrera and Ortega play sisters in the films.
The reaction to Barrera’s ouster has been intense, and the film’s director, Christopher Landon, reacted to the events surrounding his ouster. He posted and deleted a statement on X on Tuesday that said: “Everything sucks. Stop screaming. “This was not my decision.”
It seemed to some fans that the planned sequel was collapsing in real time. However, even before Barrera was fired, plans for the next “Grito” were being restructured. Ortega’s departure had required the creative team to make some alterations, according to people with knowledge, but there was still hope that the actress could be convinced to return for some kind of cameo. That no longer seems to be in the cards. Another source familiar with the franchise disputed this, saying that Ortega was never in the mix for the new film.
James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, the writers of the previous two “Scream” installments, will now work on a new draft to present to the filmmakers. Some scenes and twists may be preserved, but the film will need to find new leads. Ortega and Barrera signed on for two “Scream” movies and fulfilled those obligations with installments five and six, another source said. They would have needed new agreements for the seventh chapter.
So who will have to fight the masked killer? The “Scream” movies have a number of characters who are still alive or who could be reanimated (it is a horror movie, after all, and the joy of “Scream” is that it doesn’t bury its dead too deeply). These include Neve Campbell and Courteney Cox, the original stars of the series. Campbell appeared in 2022’s “Scream,” but opted not to return for 2023’s “Scream VI” over a salary dispute. Producers are eager to see her bring back her iconic character, Sidney Prescott. Another possibility could be Patrick Dempsey, who had a scene-stealing role in 2000’s “Scream 3.” None of these actors have been in active negotiations as of yet.
Spyglass had no comment.
The hope was that “Scream 7” would hit theaters in 2025. Although producers are essentially starting from scratch, that release date still seems feasible if Landon and the writers can find another scary story to tell. The “Scream” movies don’t require many visual effects and can be produced quickly.
All it takes is one damn good idea.