Speculating on ‘Scream VII’: What Creative Direction Can the ‘Scream’ Franchise Possibly Take Now?

After losing both Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega, what could (and should) happen in the next installment of the Scream franchise?

There is still a demand for more Scream, but many fans might have already moved on thanks to the behind-the-scenes controversies involving parts 6 and 7.

Table of Contents

As of this writing, it’s been less than a month since the announcement that Melissa Barrera, the face of the most recent incarnation of Scream, was fired. Almost immediately after we found out that Barrera wouldn’t return as Sam Carpenter, we also learned that Jenna Ortega wouldn’t return as Tara Carpenter. And just like that, the entire future of the Scream franchise was in question.

Melissa Barrera as Sam Carpenter in Scream VI (2023).
Melissa Barrera received a lot of support from fans and peers after news of her firing came out.

We do know that Spyglass Media Group, the current rights holders and producers of Scream, plan to move forward with a new movie. As of now, Christopher Landon is still set to direct. (updated on December 23, 2023) Christopher Landon was previously announced as the director, but he has exited the project. The writers of Scream (2022) and Scream VI, James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, are apparently still on board though. So what could Scream VII possibly look like now that the franchise has derailed its main story lines and alienated its three biggest stars (Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, and Neve Campbell)? Join us as we speculate wildly about where the franchise goes from here, with some options being much more viable and likely than others.

Sell the Rights and Bring Back the Stars

The Core Four as seen in Scream VI (2023).
The Core Four could be reunited if another production company were to take over.

File this theory under “Least Likely to Actually Occur,” but many fans would applaud it. The hashtag #BoycottScreamVII trended in the immediate aftermath of all the news surrounding Melissa Barrera’s firing. For many fans, the only way to get them into the theater for Scream VII is if Spyglass isn’t involved. It’s highly doubtful that this will happen, especially given the fact that Spyglass officially doubled-down on their stance with regards to firing Melissa Barrera. That indicates Spyglass is determined to continue down the path they’ve chosen.

Without any firsthand knowledge of the business and accounting side of the movie industry, it seems like the only way Spyglass would even consider selling Scream is if they thought the controversy around Scream VII would irreparably damage the brand. More specifically, if the damage to the brand would cause it to earn less money in the long run than they could get with a sale. With the release of Scream VII assumed to be more than a year away, calls for boycotts might soften to the point where they may not have much of an impact. But who knows? Scream fans are a dedicated bunch.

Chad toasts Wes in Scream (2022).
Scream (2022) touched on real-life events when it paid tribute to Wes Craven through a tribute to the character Wes. If Scream VII were to be made by a different production company, it could touch on the real-life events involving its cast. But if Spyglass did something like that it would be weird.

But let’s say Spyglass does sell the rights to a different production company. That could mean the possible return of the Carpenter sisters, and maybe even the return of Sidney. This might actually be the best scenario, because they could deliver the Scream VII that many fans hoped for. Which is, a fitting finale for the new story that began in Scream (2022), and a proper sendoff for Sidney (and Neve Campbell).

Pay Neve Campbell What She Earned

Neve Campbell as Sidney Prescott in Scream (2022).
Whether or not Neve Campbell would want to return to Scream at this point is another question entirely.

Even though Neve Campbell declined to return for Scream VI, it was reported that Spyglass might be interested in trying to get the Scream stalwart back for the next movie. Many fans would appreciate that since Neve Campbell has made her feelings about her Scream VI offer very clear. If she were to return, it would be because she was paid well and because she felt respected. That would go a long way to lessening some of the resentment certain fans have felt ever since we learned about the disputes between Campbell and the Scream producers.

Patrick Dempsey in Scream 3 (2000).
Patrick Dempsey isn’t exactly known for horror, but he makes a big impact when he does appear in horror movies.

Bringing Neve Campbell back could also open the door for the return of Patrick Dempsey. Dempsey is coming off of a great performance in the well-received slasher movie Thanksgiving (2023), and seeing the return of his character Mark Kincaid in the next Scream would be fantastic. Mark previously appeared in Scream 3, and he is mentioned in the newer movies as being married to Sidney. Seeing Mark and Sidney’s family would be great, and it would be a nice counterpoint to the incredibly sad ending of Gale and Dewey’s doomed relationship. If Sidney and Mark were to return for Scream VII, it would hopefully be a good ending for both characters. Sidney deserves her happy ending.

Shift the Focus to Ghostface

Ghostface as seen in Scream (1996).
Ghostface is a horror icon. Maybe it’s time we all just accept it and start making movies about them rather than their victims.

Let’s be honest. As we approach the seventh installment of the Scream series, the franchise is already well within the time frame for when a horror series starts to focus more on the killers than the survivors. The sixth installment of the Nightmare on Elm Street series put Freddy’s name up front in the title with Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991). Sure, it took nine movies before Friday the 13th became the Jason series with Jason Goes to Hell (1993), and it was eight movies before Saw became Jigsaw (2017). But Child’s Play became all about Chucky in only its fourth film with Bride of Chucky (1998), and Leatherface’s name was first in the title of the third movie, Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990). Maybe it’s time for the Scream franchise to become the Ghostface franchise.

Okay, yes, this is mostly a joke, but there is actually some pretty good potential in this idea. After all, Scream is known for its meta commentary on horror movies while still indulging in the tropes it pokes fun at. Plus, Scream has already gotten meta with its titles by naming the fifth movie simply Scream, just like how there are three movies titled Halloween (1978, 2007, 2018) and there are multiple nearly-identical variations of the title Texas Chainsaw Massacre within that franchise.

Ghostface as seen in Scream VI.
One of the main drawbacks to this idea is that focusing more on Ghostface will inevitably sacrifice stronger story elements. The franchise would turn into something more about fun kills and one-shot mysteries rather than strong character moments. That’s still a perfectly good way to run a slasher series though.

Shifting the focus to Ghostface could allow the series to continue indefinitely. Victims, survivors, and final girls come and go. Many fans see the Scream series as Sidney’s story, and that’s a fair assessment. Others acknowledge that the series was handed over to Sam and Tara in Scream (2022). Also fair. But crafting a multi-movie saga based around the continuing story of survivors makes things difficult when plans are forced to change. Like right now. If the focus is on Ghostface, who is different every time, changes are easier to handle, and they’d be more accepted by fans who will expect something different every time anyway.

A New Cast with a New Direction

Tony Revolori as Jason in Scream VI (2023).
Killers like Jason from Scream VI help show the wider world of Ghostface fanatics. Taking this idea away from anyone related to previous Ghostface killings would be a good idea for the franchise going forward.

Short of changing the title from Scream to Ghostface, a smart idea might simply be to scrap everything and start fresh. Sometimes a clean break is the best kind. Rather than try to salvage story ideas from the past, forge ahead with a new main cast. Scream (2022) already did something similar, and it can be done again. But this time, make the separation even more distinct. Don’t have any of the new characters have a connection to any legacy characters. Don’t invent any new family members to be a victim or a killer. Just have new people, in a new location, with a new story.

This idea doesn’t need to be a full reboot. It should exist within the continuity of the previous six Scream movies. We’ve already seen copycat Ghostfaces in previous films, so it would be simple and believable to have all new people involved in a new spate of Ghostface killings in an entirely new location. A new beginning would be good because it would free people from any expectations they might have for returning characters. And really, characters returning too many times within the same slasher series can make it feel too safe. This is still a horror franchise, and it shouldn’t feel particularly safe, but killing beloved characters isn’t always a great idea either. Filling the story with new characters will keep people guessing about who’ll be targeted next by the killers.

A Full Scream Reboot

The cast of the unreleased version of Stab 3, as seen in Scream 3 (2000).
As much fun as the casting decisions of the Stab movies are within the Scream universe, recasting the Scream characters in real life for a reboot sounds like an awful idea.

A full reboot of the Scream continuity is possible, but it doesn’t seem very probable. It also isn’t the best idea. As described above, the Scream franchise is flexible in the way it can approach Scream VII. New characters and stories can be introduced within continuity even if there are no returning actors. For that reason, a reboot would be a bad way to go, especially if the reboot involves remaking the original Scream from 1996.

Realistically, Scream 4 and Scream (2022) are already better “remakes” than any true remake could possibly be. Casting new versions of any of the original cast would be terrible, and they would almost surely be rejected by fans. The best possible kind of reboot/remake would be something like Evil Dead (2013) where it retains elements of the original, but it transforms them into something different with a new cast of characters only partially influenced by the originals. But even Evil Dead (2013) is arguably not a full remake or reboot. So, to summarize, let’s not reboot the continuity of Scream. Ever.

Make a Stab Movie Instead

Heather Graham as Casey Becker in Stab in Scream 4.
If Stab were to become a reality, casting Heather Graham in the lead role as Casey Becker (who somehow survives her attack in the first Stab movie) would be ideal.

An exception to the “no reboot, no remake” rule is if Spyglass were to make a Stab movie. Like, a full-fledged, real Stab movie released in real theaters. For those not paying attention, Stab is the fictional movie-within-the-movie series that was first seen in Scream 2. The Stab movies pop up throughout the franchise. They play a major role in Scream 3, and they are referenced in every sequel. The Stab movies were initially based on the “real” events seen in Scream (1996) by way of adapting the book Gale Weathers wrote about her experiences. The series eventually stopped being based on the “real” Ghostface murders and became entirely fictional (well, even more fictional).

The last Stab movie mentioned in Scream (2022) was the eighth in the series, just titled Stab. What if the next Scream movie turned out to be Stab 9? Anything and everything would be possible in Stab 9, because we know that the Stab movies are utterly ridiculous. Stab 5 has time travel. Therefore, a real Stab movie could bring back any character in the Scream series (played by a different actor, of course) and have the story be as ludicrous as ever thanks to it not being tethered to the reality of the Scream movies. Yes, this idea is dumb and (probably) won’t happen, but it would be fun.

Anna Paquin and Kristen Bell as seen in Stab 7 as shown in Scream 4 (2011).
Making a real Stab movie would be the ultimate meta direction for the Scream franchise to take. The scene pictured here is a clip from Stab 7, which is shown at the beginning of Scream 4.

Think about it. Having the Scream series turn into the Stab series (or at least just one spinoff movie) would be the greatest commentary on the horror movie industry since Scream (1996). It’s like saying that when a film franchise goes on too long, its own fresh ideas ultimately become stale tropes, and the franchise becomes a parody of itself. Not that that’s what has happened to Scream, but the argument can be made. The newest Scream movies are already echoing ideas from earlier movies in the franchise, meaning Scream is now commenting on itself like a movie version of an ouroboros (a snake eating its own tail). Breaking out of the Scream cycle with a Stab movie might actually be the smartest idea yet.

Meet The Author

Chris has a degree in film studies at Temple University’s campus in Tokyo, Japan. He is a renowned expert on horror cinema.