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DVD box set containing the first three films.
Directed by Wes Craven
Written by Kevin Williamson
Ehren Kruger
Starring David Arquette
Neve Campbell
Courteney Cox-Arquette
Jamie Kennedy
Liev Schreiber
Music by Marco Beltrami
Distributed by Dimension Films
The Weinstein Company
Release date(s) 1996–2010
Country United States
Language English
Gross revenue $507,244,240

The Scream film series is a series of horror films directed by Wes Craven and written by Kevin Williamson and Ehren Kruger. The main plot involves a psychopathic serial killer wearing a Halloween costume attempting to kill Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) and various other characters involved in her life. Each film begins with the gory murder of a couple before showing the whereabouts of Sidney. It takes off from there leading to the revelation of the killer's identity and the final battle between Sidney and the killer. They revitalized the slasher film genre in the mid 1990s, in a similar way to Halloween (1978) in the 1970s, by using a standard concept with a tongue-in-cheek approach that successfully combined straightforward scares with dialogue that satirized slasher film conventions. The first film became a major commercial success upon its release, and was one of the highest grossing films of 1996. It was also highly acclaimed by many critics worldwide, who appreciated the film's tongue-in-cheek approach.


Plot summary

Thoughout the series (specifically the first and third film), parts of a back story were uncovered that occurred before the first film's timescale. It is revealed that Maureen Roberts (Lynn McRee) spent time in Los Angeles trying to become an actress. She appeared in three horror films using the pseudonym of Reena Reynolds. At a Hollywood party, she was gang raped by movie insiders and became pregnant with Roman Bridger (Scott Foley). After giving birth, Maureen gave her son up for adoption and left Los Angeles. She then went back home to Woodsboro, where she met and married Neil Prescott (Lawrence Hecht). They went on to have a daughter named Sidney (Campbell). Neither Neil nor Sidney were told of the existence of Maureen's son. Meanwhile, Roman grew up wondering what had happened to his mother.

When Sidney was about 16 years old, Roman found Maureen (Reena) and went to her hoping to spend some time with her only to find out Reena Reynolds was "dead" and that she had a new life, with no interest in digging up old secrets. She also tells Roman that he was Reena's son, not hers, and she wanted nothing to do with him. The rejection enraged Roman who followed her incessantly, (sometimes recording her activities) learning that she wasn't the perfect wife and mother she pretended to be. She was engaged in several affairs with local men, including Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber) and Hank Loomis (C.W. Morgan), father of Sidney's boyfriend Billy Loomis. Roman later revealed the affair to Billy (Skeet Ulrich) which enraged him and, using his creativity as a director, Roman persuaded him to kill Maureen and frame Cotton. With the help of Billy's best friend, Stu Macher (Matthew Lillard), Billy does as instructed, and together they murder Maureen. Sidney, having witnessed someone wearing Cotton Weary's jacket, testifies that she saw Weary leave the house and Cotton is subsequently convicted of the crime and sentenced to death.

As the first film begins, Billy and Stu continue their murderous rampage, stalking other people who they feel have wronged them such as Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore) who previously dumped Stu for another guy. They begin killing Sidney's friends as part of a game whereby their actions mimic the cliche "rules" of horror movies, and although they intend to isolate Sidney and kill her as well, they are discovered by reporter Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) who manages to help Sidney thwart and kill her attackers in a showdown at the Macher house. In the second film, Billy's mother (Laurie Metcalf) is the killer, seeking revenge on Sidney and Gale, and she coerces one of Sidney's film student friends, Mickey Altieri (Timothy Olyphant), a psychopathic serial killer seeking celebrity status, into helping her. The events are mimicking the plot of a newly released film Stab depicting the events of the first Scream film. In the end, both Mrs. Loomis and Mickey are killed by Sidney. In the third film, while filming of the latest Stab movie commences in Hollywood, Roman, who also happens to be the director of the film, is dissatisfied that Sidney is still alive, and begins slaughtering members of the film crew in order to draw Sidney out of hiding, and seeks retribution for the life that he believes should have been his. Sidney mortally wounds him, and Dewey Riley (David Arquette) finally ends his life by shooting him in the head. With the last of the original masked killers dead, Sidney apparently found the strength to move on with her life.

Cast and characters

List indicator(s)

  • Italics indicate appearances in flashback or archive footage from previous films.
  • A dark grey cell indicates the character was not in the film.
Character Film
Scream Scream 2 Scream 3
Deputy Dwight "Dewey" Riley David Arquette
Sidney Prescott Neve Campbell
Gale Weathers Courteney Cox Arquette
Randy Meeks Jamie Kennedy
Cotton Weary Liev Schreiber
Ghostface Roger L. Jackson (voice)
Neil Prescott Lawrence Hencht   (character mentioned in Scream 2) Lawrence Hencht
Hank Loomis C. W. Morgan   C. W. Morgan
Reporter   Nancy O'Dell
Maureen Roberts-Prescott
Reena Reynolds (pseudonym)
Lynn McRee Lynn McRee Lynn McRee
Billy Loomis Skeet Ulrich   (character mentioned in Scream 2) Skeet Ulrich
Stuart "Stu" Macher Matthew Lillard   (character mentioned in Scream 2) Matthew Lillard
Tatum Riley Rose McGowan (character mentioned in 2 and 3)
Casey Becker Drew Barrymore   (character mentioned in Scream 2)
Kenneth "Kenny" W. Earl Brown   (character mentioned in Scream 2)
Steven "Steve" Orth Kevin Patrick Walls   (character mentioned in Scream 2)
Principal Himbry Henry Winkler   (character mentioned in Scream 2)
Debbie Salt (alias)
Mrs. Loomis
  (character mentioned in Scream) Laurie Metcalf  
Derek   Jerry O'Connell   (character referenced in Scream 3)




A fourth movie was announced by the Weinstein Company in July 2008,[1] with Wes Craven saying that he wouldn't mind directing the film, but also went on to say, "It would take it being really as good a script as the first one was, and the pay day reflect what I've done for that company."[2]

Writer Kevin Williamson is set to return for the fourth film, which he envisions to be the first of a new trilogy and could feature the return of David and Courteney Cox Arquette.[3]

Jamie Kennedy told iFMagazine that he was in talks of reprising his role as Randy Meeks. Despite the character being killed off in Scream 2, Kennedy said, "I actually had a conversation with somebody very big in the organization, and there's a way. I don't know what's going to happen, but they have plans for a lot of things. You can see new faces you wouldn't expect and you can see old faces that you wouldn't believe. There's a way to bring a lot of things around."[4][5]

At the 67th Golden Globe Awards, the Arquettes discussed the possibility of their return and also that of Neve Campbell and Craven; stating that Dimension Films hopes to get all of them back.[6]

In February 2010, Craven told the Los Angeles Times that shooting for the fourth film would begin in May 2010.[7] However, five days after the article, Craven posted on his Twitter that he still hasn't officially signed on to direct.[8]

At a press conference for Repo Men, Liev Schreiber stated there are no plans for his reprisal as Cotton Weary.[9]


Box office performance

Film Release date Box office revenue Box office ranking Budget Reference
United States Foreign Worldwide All time domestic All time worldwide
Scream December 20, 1996 $103,046,663 $70,000,000 $173,046,663 #400 $15,000,000 [10][11]
Scream 2 December 12, 1997 $101,122,258 $71,000,000 $172,363,301 #416 $24,000,000 [12]
Scream 3 February 4, 2000 $89,143,175 $72,700,000 $161,843,175 #499 $40,000,000 [13][14]
Total $293,553,139 $213,700,000 $507,253,139 $79,000,000

Critical reaction

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic Yahoo! Movies
Overall Cream of the Crop
Scream 83% (52 reviews)[15] 69% (13 reviews)[16] 65% (25 reviews)[17] B (11 reviews)[18]
Scream 2 79% (67 reviews)[19] 94% (17 reviews)[20] 63% (22 reviews)[21] B- (12 reviews)[22]
Scream 3 38% (95 reviews)[23] 39% (23 reviews)[24] 56% (32 reviews)[25]


A signature device of the series, started in Scream and continued in Scream 2 and Scream 3, was to deliver the typical "rules" for the slasher subgenre of horror movies, always recited by the movie-buff character Randy.[26]

Rules of a horror movie (Scream)

  1. You can never have sex.
  2. You can never drink or do drugs. (The "sin factor, an extension of number one".)
  3. Never, ever, EVER, under any circumstances say "I'll be right back", 'cause you won't be back.

Randy also elaborates further during another scene, claiming that one should not assume the most likely person is always the killer and that "Everyone is a suspect." This, however, is not one of the "official" rules.

In addition to the films rules, a similar set of "rules" were used for the film's trailer:

  • Don't answer the phone
  • Don't open the door
  • Don't try to hide (on the video/DVD/Bluray edition, it's "Don't try to escape")
  • But most of all, don't scream

Rules of a horror movie sequel (Scream 2)

  1. The body count is always bigger.
  2. The death scenes are always much more elaborate, with more blood and gore.
  3. Randy starts to describe the third rule: "If you want your films to become a successful franchise, never, ever...' before being interrupted by Dewey. However, the film's original teaser trailer featured an extended version of the rules scene which reveals that originally the third rule was supposed to be "Never, ever, under any circumstances assume the killer is dead." This referenced Randy's last line in the first Scream which stated that a killer always comes back to life for one last scare.

The lack of a third rule in the film's final cut was a deliberate in-joke by the crew[citation needed] referencing the fact that it is impossible to ensure that a horror franchise will be successful.

Rules of a horror movie trilogy (Scream 3)

Despite his death in the second film, Randy makes a special appearance in a video tape the character made during the events of Scream 2. In it he states that if the third movie is just another sequel, then the standard rules for a sequel apply. However, "If you find yourself dealing with an unexpected back story, and a preponderance of exposition, then the sequel rules do not apply. Because you are not dealing with a sequel, you are dealing with the concluding chapter of a trilogy." The rules for the final concluding chapter of a trilogy are different:

  1. "You've got a killer who’s gonna be superhuman. Stabbing him won’t work, shooting him won’t work. Basically in the third one, you gotta cryogenically freeze his head, decapitate him, or blow him up."
  2. "Anyone, including the main character, can die."
  3. "The past will come back to bite you in the ass. Whatever you think you know about the past, forget it. The past is not at rest! Any sins you think were committed in the past are about to break out and destroy you."

In closing Randy goes on to say good luck, godspeed, and that he will see some of the people soon because according to the rules, some of them weren't going to make it. Because he didn't, not if they were watching that tape.

Although, in the first few drafts, there was a fourth rule: "Never be alone" but was taken out because Gale immediately goes off alone afterwards.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Fletcher, Alex (15 July 2008), "Weinstein Company confirms 'Scream 4'", Digital Spy, Movies (Digital Spy Limited), archived from the original on 22 May 2009,, retrieved 22 May 2009 
  2. ^ Scream 4: It's Happening
  3. ^ Williamson: Scream 4 to start new trilogy
  4. ^ News: Big News! Jamie Kennedy Talks About a 4th Scream Movie!
  5. ^ 'Scream 4' is Still Cookin
  6. ^ Arquette and Cox Have Different Perspectives on Craven's Involvement in 'Scream IV'
  7. ^ Wes Craven's retirement plan? 'My goal is die in my 90s on the set'
  8. ^ Wes Craven Still Not Signed on to Direct 'Scream IV'! Can You Say WTF?!
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ "Scream (1996)". Box Office Mojo., Inc. 
  11. ^ "Scream (1996)". The-Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. 
  12. ^ "Scream 2 (1997)". Box Office Mojo., Inc. 
  13. ^ "Scream 3 (2000)". Box Office Mojo., Inc. 
  14. ^ "Scream 3 (2000)". The-Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. 
  15. ^ "Scream". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment, Inc. 
  16. ^ "Scream (Cream of the Crop)". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment, Inc. 
  17. ^ "Scream". Metacritic. CNET Networks, Inc. 
  18. ^ "Scream". Yahoo! Movies. Yahoo!. 
  19. ^ "Scream 2". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment, Inc. 
  20. ^ "Scream 2 (Cream of the Crop)". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment, Inc. 
  21. ^ "Scream 2". Metacritic. CNET Networks, Inc. 
  22. ^ "Scream 2". Yahoo! Movies. Yahoo!. 
  23. ^ "Scream 3". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment, Inc. 
  24. ^ "Scream 3 (Cream of the Crop)". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment, Inc. 
  25. ^ "Scream 3". Metacritic. CNET Networks, Inc. 
  26. ^ Maslin, Jant (December 20, 1996). "Scream". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-05-31. 

External links


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