‘Scream’ Franchise Almost Had a Simpler, Metatextual Title
What’s in a name? Well, if it’s going to be plastered across a movie poster — a lot! Imagine a world in which Independence Day was called Doomsday. We’ve got Bill Pullman’s touching speech about coming together to thank for the change, which really pulled the whole film together thematically.
Sometimes, the title change is inspired by early audience reactions. That was the case for Dolly Parton’s 1991 film. It was originally called Big T, but fans thought it was a reference to the singer’s famously large breasts, so it got changed to Wild Texas Wind. The movie wasn’t very well received, so who knows if the original title might have made it a bigger hit.
The Scream franchise has been a huge success, and it all started with a film that skirted the line between horror and satire of the genre. Would it have been as big of a success if it had gone by its original name?
‘Scream’ released in 1996
The mid-to-late-1990s were a high watermark of sorts for a certain type of teen slasher flick. In 1996, fans saw The Craft release and become a cult classic. In 1997, it was I Know What You Did Last Summer that helped define the genre. In 1998, we got Urban Legend and Disturbing Behavior and I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. Idle Hands (1999) probably also deserves a spot on this list, though its tongue-in-cheek nature was a little more on the nose.
In many ways, the swell of success of all of these films is rooted in the release of Scream. The 1996 film helped create a renewed interest in teen slasher films, and it was praised for being a slick satire of the genre while still being genuinely terrifying. That’s not an easy feat to pull off.
It also had an impressive cast that mixed big names with up-and-comers. Skeet Ulrich, Neve Campbell, Drew Barrymore, Courtney Cox, Matthew Lillard, and Rose McGowan all lent their talents to make the film a success.
The original ‘Scream’ almost had a different (and familiar) name
Now that Scream has been used for so many films, it’s hard to imagine the franchise going by any other name, but it almost happened. As Stacker reports, Scream was almost called Scary Movie.
Wait a minute! you might be thinking. That’s already the name of a movie. You’re right, but that movie came after the original Scream flick. While the 1996 version of Scream skirted the line between metatextual parody and real horror movie, Scary Movie (which premiered in 2000) leapt all the way over the line into pure parody.
The Wayans family’s film used many of the tropes and scenes from Scream for inspiration, and their use of the same title that Scream originally considered shows the connections between the two when it comes to poking a little fun at the genre.
‘Scream’ started a huge and successful franchise
When Hollywood finds a winning formula, it can’t resist repeating it, and Scream launched a series of sequels. Scream 2, which came out the very next year in 1997, picks up two years after the first string of murders and features the first film’s protagonist — Sidney (Neve Campbell) — at college.
In 2000, we got Scream 3, and Sidney is once again being haunted (and hunted) by someone in a Ghostface mask. This time the killer is stalking her and her friends in Hollywood as they visit the set of a film about the original murders. Scream 4 (2011) shows Sidney healing through writing a decade later when Ghostface Killer rises again.
We don’t know too much about the plot yet, but 2022 will see the release of the fifth installment (called simply Scream) and will bring Sidney back to her hometown once more.