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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.
  • Breakthrough Hit: This turned Kevin Williamson from a struggling writer to Dawson's Creek, The Vampire Diaries, I Know What You Did Last Summer etc.
  • Career Resurrection: Although she was killed in the opening scene, Former Child Star Drew Barrymore saw her career revive overnight.
  • Cast the Runner-Up:
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    • 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. As a result, Barrymore inadvertently popularised the Dead Star Walking trope at the time.
    • David Arquette presumptuously turned down the role of Billy in favor for playing Dewey, which was originally written as a hunky, leading man part. He was also considered for Stu.
    • Matthew Lillard was also considered for Billy.
  • Dawson Casting: All of the teen characters are played by actors who were old enough to drink at the time. (Interestingly, despite having had the longest and most notable career at the time, Drew Barrymore was actually the youngest of them by at least a couple of years.)
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  • 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.
  • 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 that it was an outstanding display of trust between actor and director.
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  • Executive Meddling: The first 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.
  • 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?
  • 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 Gail, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Stunt Casting: Drew Barrymore as the second victim. (Everyone forgets that her boyfriend Steve was the first on-screen victim.) Hmm... looks like Ghostface has a question for another trivia game.
    Ghostface: Who was the first victim in the first Scream movie?
    Soon-to-die teen: It was Casey! Drew Barrymore's character! I've seen that movie a hundred times!
    Ghostface: Then you should know it was Casey's boyfriend who got killed first! I'm sorry, but it looks like your boyfriend is about to follow in his footsteps.
  • 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.
  • Throw It In!:
    • 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.
    • 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. Stu screaming "You hit me with the phone, dick!" was actually Matthew Lillard's reaction. 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 ends up causing him some pain.
    • During the climax, the lines "I always had a thing for ya, Sid" and "In your dreams" were ad-libbed by Matthew Lillard and Neve Campbell respectively.
    • Matthew Lillard also ad-libbed his character's reaction to hearing that Sid has reported him to the police. "My mom and dad are gonna be so mad at me!" - which makes us feel a tiny bit sympathetic for him.
    • 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, 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.
  • Uncredited Role: Henry Winkler was not credited as the producers wanted the attention to be focused on the young actors and actresses.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: Billy is marked as a suspect — correctly, as it turns out — because he is found to have... a cell phone on him. In 1996, cell phones were still luxury items that were only owned by rich kids and businessmen, making it easier to narrow down a killer whose M.O. was to make threatening phone calls before offing his victims, but nowadays, it would be more suspicious if he didn't have a cell phone on him (so that he couldn't be tracked). The film's pop culture references likewise nail it down to the mid-late '90s. One of the girls in the Bathroom Stall of Overheard Insults brings up the '90s talk show host Ricki Lake when discussing her theory about how Sidney is the killer, and Sidney jokes that, in the film adaptation of her life, she'd like to be played by Meg Ryan but would probably get Tori Spelling instead (which actually happens in the second film). Also, a pivotal scene takes place in a video rental store (now an endangered species), and during that scene, when Stu asks Randy what his motivation would be if he were the killer, Randy's reply of "It's the millennium. Motives are incidental." references the hype over the coming of Y2K. In an interview in 2016, Matthew Lillard (who played Stu) stated that writer Kevin Williamson was deliberately going for this, and wanted the film to reflect the time period and zeitgeist in which it was made as opposed to giving it a more "timeless" feel:
    "Right before Scream, there was a real push to make movies 'evergreen', meaning don’t date them and stay away from popular references so that if I turn it on in twenty years, I could think it was today. One of the things that [screenwriter] Kevin [Williamson] did was to throw out this idea of 'let it be forevermore', and let's fucking tag it for right now and lean into the moment of right now."
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The role of Randy was neck and neck between Breckin Meyer and Jamie Kennedy. Producers were adamant that Kennedy play the role, despite him being unknown. Had Meyer been cast, that would have been the third actor from The Craft to star in the film (along with Neve Campbell and Skeet Ulrich).
    • 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.
    • Molly Ringwald was actually offered the role of Sidney. She turned it down, due to not wanting to play a high school student at the age of twenty seven.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Danny Boyle, Sam Raimi, Robert Rodriguez, and George A. Romero were all offered the director's chair. Rodriguez would later direct the Stab segment in Scream 2, and would work with Kevin Williamson again on The Faculty.
    • Ben Affleck auditioned for Billy Loomis. Joaquin Phoenix turned it down.
    • Freddie Prinze Jr. auditioned for Stu.
    • Melissa Joan Hart, Melanie Lynskey, Brittany Murphy and Alicia Witt all auditioned for Sidney Prescott. Reese Witherspoon turned it down. Neve Campbell herself almost didn't take it, as she had just done another horror film The Craft. Ultimately she was won over because the character "wasn't a victim" and fought back against the killers.
    • Breckin Meyer and Jason Lee had auditioned for Randy Meeks, with Meyer being the studio's preferred choice for the role before Jamie Kennedy won it.
    • Janeane Garofalo and Brooke Shields turned down the role of Gail Weathers.
    • Chloë Sevigny auditioned for a part.
  • Word of St. Paul: According to Skeet Ulrich, it was Billy who killed Tatum in the garage.
  • Working Title: Scary Movie.

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