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Trivia / Scream (1996)

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  • Actor-Inspired Element:
    • Dewey in the script was envisioned as a hunk, and David Arquette was asked to play the role of Billy at first. But he opted to play Dewey instead, and the character was rewritten to become a lot more bumbling and comedic to fit.
    • Tatum was also written as much more tomboyish, but Rose McGowan rejected the wardrobe mistress's choice of denim overalls, and bought several clothes she ended up wearing in the film. She also recalls her room set having posters of the Indigo Girls on the wall, and she took them down and replaced them with kitten posters. According to the actress, she wanted to make the character as cute and appealing as possible.
  • Awesome, Dear Boy: Wes Craven was initially reluctant to do another horror film, getting burnt out with the genre. When he saw that Drew Barrymore was attached, he agreed immediately.
  • Breakthrough Hit: This launched the writing career of the then-struggling Kevin Williamson, after which he wrote for popular works including Dawson's Creek, The Vampire Diaries, and I Know What You Did Last Summer.
  • Career Resurrection: Although she was killed in the opening scene, Former Child Star Drew Barrymore saw her career revive overnight. Forming a decade-lasting collaboration with Adam Sandler proved fruitful when romantic comedies like The Wedding Singer, 50 First Dates, and Blended became box office smashes, while arthouse fare like Donnie Darko and Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind helped recoup her critical esteem. Other hits Barrymore had included Ever After and Charlie's Angels (2000), plus she also dabbled in directing with Whip It. She later got her own talk show in The New '20s.
  • Cast the Runner-Up:
    • Kevin Patrick Walls nearly got the role of Billy that went to Skeet Ulrich. They gave him the smaller role of Casey's boyfriend Steve Orth to make up for it.
    • Drew Barrymore approached producers to play Sidney and was cast – but had to drop out due to other commitments. She was still very interested in the project and was given the smaller role of Casey, being especially keen on establishing that Anyone Can Die.
    • David Arquette preemptively turned down the role of Billy in favor of playing Dewey, who was originally written as a hunky, leading man part. He was also considered for Stu.
    • Matthew Lillard was also considered for Billy.
  • Costume Backlash: Although the hair colour was her own idea (see below), Rose McGowan says she hated Tatum's hair. She maintained it was "perfect for that character" however.
  • Creator's Favorite Episode: Rose McGowan calls this the best set she ever worked on, and the film she's proudest of.
  • Dawson Casting: All of the teen characters are played by actors who were in their early to mid 20s at the time. (Interestingly, despite having had the longest and most notable career at the time, Drew Barrymore was actually the youngest of them; she was 21 when Scream was filmed.) Funnily enough, Dewey's actor David Arquette was actually younger than his character (he was 24 and Dewey was 25). Even though Dewey is supposed to be almost a decade older than the teens, Skeet Ulrich (Billy), Matthew Lillard (Stu), and Jamie Kennedy (Randy) were older than Arquette; they were all 26 (or almost 26 in Kennedy's case) when Scream was filmed.
  • Development Gag: Sidney makes a quip about Tori Spelling playing her in a movie of her life. Spelling was actually one of the actresses considered for Sidney – and in Scream 2, she would go on to play her in the Film Within a Film Stab.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: Rose McGowan, a natural brunette, went blonde as Tatum in order to distinguish herself from Neve Campbell. She's said that the script didn't call for it, but her suggesting to go blonde did help her get cast.
  • Enforced Method Acting:
    • Wes Craven made sure that none of the actors had met Roger L. Jackson prior to filming, and the telephone scenes were filmed with him actually on the phone.
    • In order to keep Drew Barrymore looking sad and panicked in the beginning scene, Craven kept telling her stories about animals being tortured, as she is a great animal lover in real life. Craven was given permission to do this by Barrymore, and he reminisces in the DVD commentary that it was an outstanding display of trust between actor and director.
  • Executive Meddling:
    • The film was originally called Scary Movie (no relation) and remained so throughout most of its production, but Harvey Weinstein changed the title at the last minute. Wes Craven was miffed at first, but after a while he grew to love the new name.
    • Kevin Williamson's original draft was much more graphic, with descriptions of internal organs "rolling down their victims' legs". When the script was purchased by Miramax, most of this was toned down. Wes Craven however was able to restore some of it.
  • Follow the Leader: Kicked off the whole sub-genre of self-referential, postmodern teen horror movies during the late 90s. Examples include The Faculty, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and Urban Legend among others. It also, interestingly, started a new form of marketing in which the movie posters featured a handful of the young stars all standing front and center in front of a dark background and giving a Kubrick Stare to the viewers.
  • Irony as She Is Cast: Minor example. Rose McGowan discovered she was so small that she could actually fit through the pet flap on set. They had to nail her top to the inside of the garage door to prevent her from slipping out – maybe Tatum isn't as moronic as she seems, when it was such a close thing?
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: The unrated director's cut was only released on Laserdisc and, oddly enough, snuck onto limited editions of the VHS that were falsely advertised as being the R-rated version. Aside from that, the unrated version was never re-released on DVD, Blu-ray, or streaming services.
  • Looping Lines:
    • As Gale leaves Kenny in the van, she's clearly saying "keep watching". But the words "I'll be right back" are dubbed over, possibly to tie into Randy's 'rule' that people who say that in horror movies always die. As Gale ends up surviving.
    • When Sidney finds Dewey with a knife in his back, she can be seen screaming a Big "NO!" but the line "Dewey!" is dubbed over it.
  • Magnum Opus Dissonance: Kevin Williamson was working on a passion project called Teaching Mrs. Tingle that wouldn't get made for another three years. Scream was hastily written in three days to pay his bills.
  • No Stunt Double: Rose McGowan did Tatum's garage door stunt herself.
  • On-Set Injury: Skeet Ulrich has a scene where he gets attacked with an umbrella. However, Ulrich has a wire in his body from a surgery long ago that sends a nasty shock through his body when touched. The stunt performer couldn't see well in the Ghostface costume when doing the scene, and accidentally missed the pad on Ulrich's chest and hit the wire. That scream of his is very much real.
  • The Other Darrin: Skeet Ulrich (Billy) briefly plays Ghostface as Ghostface/Stu is menacing Randy on the video camera right before Stu (Matthew Lillard) slashes Kenny's throat.
  • Playing Against Type: This was what Courteney Cox was determined to do with Gale, as she was only known as the Nice Girl Monica on Friends. Producers were reluctant to cast her for precisely this reason, but she lobbied for the role. Jerk with a Heart of Gold is now Cox's type.
  • Real Life Writes the Hairstyle: Rose McGowan opted to go blonde to distinguish herself from Neve Campbell. When in a meeting with producer Cathy Konrad, she noticed her colour and asked to meet her stylist.
  • The Red Stapler:
    • Caller ID systems became so ubiquitous after this film came out (any guesses as to why?) that it was even lampshaded in the sequel, where Sidney has one and uses it to catch a Ghostface-imitating prankster.
    • The Ghostface mask was originally just one of many generic masks produced by the Fun World company for Halloween. Needless to say, the film caused an explosion of popularity for the design, and it has remained a staple for Halloween costumes ever since.
  • Romance on the Set:
  • Similarly Named Works: There is also a 1981 slasher film called Scream.
  • Sleeper Hit: A very rare example of a movie that debuted at #3 at the box office and then slowly climbed up to #1 thanks to strong word-of-mouth. The film even earned a second theatrical run, and outperformed most first-run films also showing at the time.
  • Spared by the Cut: Wes Craven flip-flopped on whether or not to kill off Dewey. The scene of him being taken into the ambulance at the end was filmed as a precaution in case he changed his mind. Test audiences responded well to the character, so Craven spared him. If you'll notice in the scene where Gale falls on top of him, he's not breathing.
  • Star-Making Role: While Neve Campbell was part of Party of Five and had been in the Sleeper Hit The Craft, this marked her true breakout role.
  • Stunt Casting:
    • Drew Barrymore as Casey Becker, who gets a shock death in the opening. As noted elsewhere, she was originally going to be Sidney. However, she was kept on board as a Dead Star Walking because of her name recognition. In fact, Drew being attached was what convinced Wes Craven to sign on in the first place.
    • Gale Weathers was also intended to be played by a name actress. Although Courteney Cox wasn't the first choice (see below), she was a recognisable star from Family Ties and of course Friends.
    • Subverted with Randy. Producers wanted a more prominent actor to play the role, and were favoring Breckin Meyer (best known for Clueless at the time). But ultimately they picked the unknown Jamie Kennedy.
  • Technology Marches On: Or more specifically, access to technology marches on.
    • When Billy drops his cell phone while comforting Sidney after her first attack by the killer, he becomes an immediate suspect because the killer was using one. Back in 1996, cell phones were still rare enough that this would look suspicious. Today, not having a cell phone (which can easily be tracked by GPS) would invite more suspicion than having one. That said, there is still one way the scene could work today — Burner Phones (cheap, prepaid cell phones, often of the primitive "dumb" variety, much like Billy's) are commonly used by criminals who don't want to be tracked by police.
    • Caller ID existed at the time this film came out, but it wasn't in widespread use, and so none of the characters have it. Its absence is so noticeable that even the sequel comments on it, as noted above under The Red Stapler. Later installments of the series would get around the issue by having Ghostface steal or clone others' cell phones to disguise himself.
    • CRT TV sets are an example of this as well. "Tube" TVs would give way to flat-panel TV sets, and dropping a TV set on a killer nowadays would more than likely be irritating to the killer instead of likely to kill him.
  • Throw It In!:
    • One example became a plot point. Executives disagreed on whether the killer should have a motive or not, with some feeling it was scarier if there wasn't. As there are two killers, Billy has the motive (revenge for his parents splitting up) and Stu doesn't.
    • When the killer breaks through the window and Casey hits him with the phone, she actually did hit him in the face — and it was Wes Craven under the mask. The take is used in the film.
    • Rose McGowan maintains that she cannot scream, and ad-libbed Tatum shouting out "Mom!" when she's crushed by the garage door.
    • Matthew Lillard ad-libbed "Houston, we have a problem" when Stu notices the phone is missing.
    • At the end of the movie, Billy hitting Stu with the phone in anger was unintentional, as the phone accidentally slipped out of Skeet Ulrich's hands due to the fake blood]]. Subsequently, Stu screaming "You hit me with the phone, dick!" was actually Matthew Lillard's reaction. This ended up adding to the scene to many, as it makes Billy's Villainous Breakdown during the scene more genuine and shows how much of a self-entitled Bad Boss he is towards Stu. These various clumsy actions were what led to the consistency of Ghostface ending up as a complete stumbling klutz in the sequels.
    • In the scene where Sidney attacks Billy with an umbrella, Billy's actor Skeet Ulrich got legitimately injured. When he was hit by the umbrella, the stuntwoman playing Sidney couldn't see where she was aiming and wound up hitting a wire in his chest he had gotten during surgery at a young age. Touching it ended up causing him some pain, so the agonized reaction you see from him is real.
    • During the climax, the lines "I always had a thing for ya, Sid!" and "In your dreams!" were respectively ad-libbed by Matthew Lillard and Neve Campbell.
    • Matthew Lillard also ad-libbed his character's reaction to hearing that Sidney has reported him to the police: "My mom and dad are gonna be so mad at me!"
    • Roger Jackson's voice as Ghostface was only meant to be a placeholder; the filmmakers planning on dubbing it in post-production. They later decided the voice was already perfect and left it in.
  • Troubled Production: The film had a smoother production compared to its two sequels, though that's not to say it was entirely rosy.
    • Wes Craven was often at odds with the Weinsteins and the MPAA. Among other things, Bob Weinstein felt that the Ghostface mask wasn't scary, and that Drew Barrymore's wig in the opening looked terrible. At various points, the Weinsteins considered replacing Craven, forcing him and editor Patrick Lussier to assemble a workprint version of the opening scene to prove that they were on the right track. After seeing the footage, the Weinsteins came around.
    • Speaking of the Ghostface mask, it was a lucky break that it was used at all. On top of Bob Weinstein not liking it, there were initially legal questions concerning whether it could be used in the film, as it was a mass-produced Halloween mask and the producers were having trouble tracing the mask's origins. In order to avoid a licensing dispute, Craven had KNB Effects create their own, slightly modified version. He didn't like the look of it, but it wound up being used in a few scenes before the producers finally found the company that had made the original mask and secured the rights.
    • Craven was adamant about filming in the US, as he wanted the setting to look like an all-American, suburban small town. Locations in North Carolina were initially considered, but rejected due to the fact that the sites that looked promising would've required costly modification and repairs to be usable for a film production.
    • They eventually settled on the Wine Country in northern California, but even there, unforeseen problems cropped up. Plans to film the school scenes in Santa Rosa High School provoked a firestorm of controversy in Santa Rosa, as the nearby town of Petaluma had been the site of the Polly Klaas murder just three years prior, with the killer's trial slated to begin while Scream was in production. A fierce, three-hour town hall debate, scheduled for the day after filming was to begin, ended with the production being denied permission to film in the high school, forcing them to shoot the school scenes at the nearby Sonoma Community Center instead. Knowing that there would likely be delays due to the controversy, Craven began production by filming scenes at locations outside Santa Rosa. The credits to the film contain a Take That! towards the Santa Rosa school board as a result ("No Thanks Whatsoever to the Santa Rosa City School District Governing Board"), though Craven later regretted putting it in once he came to realize just how touchy a subject it was in the town.
    • At one point during the filming of the opening scene, somebody forgot to unplug the phone that Casey used to try and call the cops. This resulted in real, puzzled 911 operators hearing Drew Barrymore screaming for her life on the other end.
    • The third act of the film (known as Scene 118) was difficult to film since it took place entirely at night, and the hours were limited. Furthermore, it all took place at a single location, yet featured the stories and deaths of nearly all the main characters. It took 21 days to film. It was so exhausting, the production crew was given T-shirts that read, "I survived Scene 118!"
    • Mark Irwin, the director of photography, was fired a week before shooting was to end. Craven, upon reviewing the dailies, found that the footage was out of focus and unusable, and Irwin was ordered to fire and replace his camera crew. When Irwin responded that they'd have to fire him too, they did just that.
    • When filming her scene in the garage, Rose McGowan missed when throwing beer bottles at Ghostface and hit the camera. This shattered a lens and set them back "about five hours".
  • Uncredited Role:
    • Henry Winkler was not credited, as the producers wanted the attention to be focused on the young actors and actresses.
    • Linda Blair makes an unbilled cameo as a reporter.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Molly Ringwald and Reese Witherspoon were initially offered the role of Sidney Prescott before Neve Campbell was cast. Ringwald turned it down due to her reluctance to portray a teenager at the age of twenty-seven.
    • Janeane Garofalo, Elizabeth Berkley and Brooke Shields read for the role of Gale Weathers before the casting of Courteney Cox.
    • Breckin Meyer, Jason Lee and Seth Green were the final contenders for Randy Meeks before Jamie Kennedy was cast.
    • Ben Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix were approached for the part of Billy Loomis before the casting of Skeet Ulrich.
    • Chloë Sevigny and Melinda Clarke auditioned for the part of Tatum Riley before Rose McGowan was cast.
    • Sam Raimi, Danny Boyle, George A. Romero and Robert Rodriguez were offered to direct the film before Wes Craven was hired. However, Kevin Williamson revealed that none of the directors understood the tone of the project, as they all believed the movie was intended to be a comedy. Rodriguez would eventually go on to direct the footage for the fictional in-universe film, Stab, in Scream 2, and direct Williamson's screenplay of The Faculty.
    • Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, and Morgan Creek placed bids for purchasing the rights to the script before The Weinstein Company won the bidding war.note 
    • Ghostface was originally designed to have a white cloak instead, to look more like a ghost. This was changed to black, out of worry that it would resemble a Ku Klux Klan uniform too much.
    • A scene was scripted to happen after the Bathroom Stall of Overheard Insults; Sidney would burst into the principal's office in hysterics to tell him what had happened. This explains why classes are suspended immediately afterwards. Additionally, Kevin Williamson wanted to cut the bathroom scene, but Wes Craven insisted it was important to develop Sidney's relationship with her mother.
    • An early draft of the ending had Randy more involved in the climax, with him being the one to fight with Stu in the living room before Sidney finishes him and Billy off with a bullet to the head. The original ending also had a Maybe Ever After between Randy and Sidney where he successfully asks her out to a movie, whereas in the actual movie and for the rest of the franchise, Sidney is seemingly unaware of Randy's crush on her.
    • Principal Himbry didn't die in the original script. It was added in after producers noted that thirty pages of script passed without a death. This also gave the majority of teens a reason to leave the party during the night.
    • Tatum's death scene was originally different. She was planned to have a fist fight with the killer and then get the garage door dropped on her neck. Kevin Williamson's assistant noticed the pet flap in the garage door and suggested killing her that way.
  • Word of God:
    • Joseph Whipp, who played the sheriff, also played a cop in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). Wes Craven stated that they're the same person. He got so upset by the Elm Street killings that he moved to a small town in Northern California.
    • According to Kevin Williamson's Twitter, Stu was the Ghostface who killed Casey.
    • In the DVD Commentary, Craven and Williamson implied that they kept Billy offscreen to account for Ghostface killing Tatum.
  • Word of St. Paul: According to Skeet Ulrich, it was Billy who killed Tatum in the garage. That said, this one is corroborated by Craven and Williamson as noted above.
  • Working Title: Scary Movie.

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