The Scream franchise began in 1996, with the slasher film series accruing a diehard fan base that lobbied for more movies after Scream 4’s underwhelming box office performance led to the cancellation of its sequels.
Fans got their wish with 2022’s successful outing that featured a mix of old and new cast members to tell a killer new tale.
Twenty-twenty-three’s New York-set Scream 6 managed to do the impossible by surviving — and thriving! — without series star Neve Campbell.
That flick proved that the venerable title wasn’t opposed to revamping the narrative.
Armed with a cast headlined by Melissa Barerra and Jenna Ortega, Scream 6 became the biggest entry yet, leading to a swift announcement for a seventh film in the franchise.
At the time, the series seemed destined to continue with Barrera and Ortega’s Sam and Tara Carpenter as the final girls, and we expected that we’d finally meet their mother, Christina.
What a difference a few days makes.
Barrera was fired by production studio Spyglass this week for her social media commentary on the Israel-Hamas war.
“Spyglass’ stance is unequivocally clear: We have zero tolerance for antisemitism or the incitement of hate in any form, including false references to genocide, ethnic cleansing, Holocaust distortion or anything that flagrantly crosses the line into hate speech,” a statement from the company shared Tuesday read.
In the aftermath of her firing, rumors that Ortega was walking away from the franchise as a sign of solidarity with Barrera spread like wildfire.
Today, it was alleged that Ortega had notified producers she would be stepping away from the movie months ago.
Deadline says that her exit was discussed before the strike, and it was down to her Wednesday Season 2 production schedule as to whether she would participate or not.
Apparently, the answer is that no, Ortega will not be a part of the upcoming installment. That the news falls only a day after Barrera’s departure, we’re to believe, is pure coincidence.
As previously reported, the Netflix juggernaut is relocating to Ireland to shoot its second season early next year.
The departures, sudden or not, leave the franchise in flux without its two most popular stars. There’s no telling how this could affect the Christopher Landon-directed seventh chapter.
Ahead of her firing, all signs pointed to Barrera returning to finish Sam’s story, but it doesn’t seem like Sam will have much of a presence unless the franchise goes the recast route.
Recasting one role would be a tough sell, but two would be out of the realm of possibility, so there’s a high probability the Carpenter storyline will be discarded entirely.
That leaves Jasmin Savoy Brown and Mason Gooding’s Mindy-Meeks Martin and Chad-Meeks Martin as the two remaining members of the core four that anchored Scream 6.
There’s no telling whether Savoy Brown and Gooding are interested in returning, but if they do, centering the next chapter on them makes sense.
They both survived inevitable deaths from the Ghostface killers and have resonated well with fans since they arrived in the fifth chapter as the niece and nephew of Randy from Scream 1 and 2.
If there’s a new killer on the loose, making them the focal points of the drama if the actors choose to return would be a good way to keep the momentum from Scream 6 without entirely alienating fans.
Another possibility would be Hayden Panettiere returning as Kirby Reed.
Kirby was a fan-favorite on Scream 4 who was brought back after what seemed to be a very definite death.
Her unique training and connection to the Woodsboro Murders from Scream 4 made her return to Scream 6 both satisfying and crucial in a movie without Neve Campbell, who departed after reportedly not being given an offer to return that considered her contributions to the franchise.
There was a lot of uncertainty heading into Scream 6 that it would be a box office disaster, but somehow, it prevailed.
Its success was due to the critical success of Scream 5 and Ortega’s star power, which soared overnight following the premiere of Wednesday in November of 2022.
Wednesday broke in ways that most shows only dream of, slicing through the cultural zeitgeist with memes and videos as though it was the latest Taylor Swift record.
Kirby could lead a seventh movie alongside the Meeks twins, but if this franchise has proven anything, it likes to play with expectations, so it wouldn’t be shocking for it to proceed in a completely different direction.
For that reason alone, we won’t be alarmed to get a new crop of leads and a new story, adding even more layers to the already deep lore for which the franchise is known.
There were rumors earlier this year that the next chapter would be set at Christmas, but there hasn’t been any validity to that claim as of yet or how the casting changes could hamper that direction.
Looking around the Internet today, one thing is clear. Fans are unhappy that Ortega and Barrera are out, making future installments more of a tough sell.
Recent installments have hinged on legacy stars reprising their roles, and it’s not hard to imagine the producers are kicking themselves for writing out David Arquette as Dewey.
The sixth installment also came close to ending Courteney Cox‘s Gale, but the character lived another day, so who knows what her future could bring?
A surefire way to generate buzz would be to bring back Neve Campbell, but that would involve paying her what she’s worth. More than anything, studios care about their bottom line, but it’s ridiculous that Campell had to push back when she was lowballed.
If the stars aligned and Neve returned as a lead, it’d also be a good idea to bring back Sexiest Man of the Year Patrick Dempsey’s Mark Kincaid.
We know from the recent movies that Sidney and Mark are still together, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility they could appear on-screen again.
From a storytelling standpoint, it’s hard to imagine Gale getting involved in any Ghostface happenings for a long time after almost losing her life, but if we’re poking at storytelling standpoints, most of the narrative of slasher films is up for grabs.
The path to Cox’s return would probably involve Campbell being front and center.
Without knowing where the franchise is going next in terms of plot and casting, it’s hard to tell whether the seventh entry will even happen.
Money talks, and coming off the most significant movie in the series, it’s hard to imagine Spyglass resting the series again despite the current changes and discussions surrounding them.
What are your thoughts on what’s happened and what could happen next?
Hit the comments, Scream Fanatics.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on X.