Christmas Rushed: The film was rushed into production to get it ready for Halloween 1997. Less extreme than a lot of examples, but shooting lasted ten weeks and the whole thing was ready in about six months.
Inverted for Jennifer Love Hewitt - who was two years younger than Julie is supposed to be. Again, this would be in line with the book, where Julie is the youngest and is about to graduate when the story happens.
Max isn't said to be a teen, but some dialogue implies he's the same age as the friends. Johnny Galecki was twenty-one.
Disowned Adaptation: Lois Duncan has openly stated she detests the movie, as she was appalled that they turned her suspense novel in which the only death is the hit-and-run that sets off the plot into a Slasher Movie (see In Name Only on the main page), especially in light of her own daughter, Kaitlyn Arquette, being murdered in 1989. The only silver lining she was able to find in it was that it made people seek out the book and her other writing, giving her career a second wind. Even so, it's telling that the sequel didn't credit her for the use of her (remaining) characters.
Dyeing for Your Art: Freddie Prinze Jr wasn't wanted for the role of Ray because he looked "too soft" and "not muscular enough". After multiple failed auditions, he bulked up and got a haircut to win the part.
Enforced Method Acting: Muse Watson and Jennifer Love Hewitt avoided each other so the latter would be more uneasy of him in their scenes.
Executive Meddling: The studio wanted the film to be gorier, which Jim Gillespie didn't. Specifically for Elsa's death, they wanted it re-shot to make it more graphic. They compromised by adding a scene of Elsa's blood splashing against the window without showing the actual death.
Follow the Leader: Kevin Williamson actually wrote this script before Scream (1996) but had trouble selling it. After the success of Scream it was immediately bought. It's assumed that Urban Legend was inspired by this one.
The "what are you waiting for?" moment was requested by a teenage fan who had won a contest.
When shooting the climax aboard the boat, they forgot Julie was wearing a sweater when she gets on and just a tank top by the end. They hurriedly filmed a short scene where Julie takes off the sweater as leverage to open a door below deck.
Reese Witherspoon auditioned but changed her mind and withdrew. She did however recommend her then-boyfriend Ryan Philippe for the role of Barry.
Due to the killer's resemblance to the Gorton's Fisherman mascot, there was originally a line from one of the characters comparing him to "the fish stick guy". Jim Gillespie cut it, not wanting the joke to ruin the movie's tension.
An alternate ending to the film would have Julie on the computer, receiving an email that said "I still know." This was later used as a preview for the sequel.
Max's death wasn't added until re-shoots. Word of God says that it was needed to show that the killer was an actual threat to the protagonists.
A reboot has been in the works for years, the script penned by Mike Flanagan and Jeff Howard.
Writer Revolt: Jim Gillespie hated the original ending and deliberately shot it "as boring as possible" in the hopes it would be changed. Sure enough, test audiences deemed it anticlimactic, and it was re-shot.
Lois Duncan's original novel:
Life Imitates Art: Lois Duncan's own daughter was murdered in a drive-by shooting in 1989.
Unintentional Period Piece: The book dates itself to the 70s with a lot of the dialogue - a lot of "golly" in there for instance. Helen's apartment block is supposed to be the posh place in town because it has a TV in its rec room, this being before apartments would be expected to have their own individual televisions. And of course one major character is a returning veteran from Vietnam. The original cover even has a girl with obvious '70s Hair. But in the 2000s, Lois Duncan had her work undergo a Setting Update - updating the slang and clothing descriptions, having the above-mentioned veteran be returning from Iraq, and inserting mentions of the characters having computers and cell phones. She commented that very little overall plot points had to be changed, and she merely found ways for the characters to not have their cell phones when they would have broken the plot.