'Scream VI' Directors on Neve Campbell, Sequel Homages and Who Else They'd Like to Bring Back (Exclusive)

The directors talk to ET about spoilers in the latest installment in the 'Scream' slasher franchise.

Warning: spoilers ahead for Scream VI, do not proceed if you haven't watched!

The Scream franchise first launched in 1996 from screenwriter Kevin Williamson and the late director Wes Craven. Five sequels and nearly 30 years later, Ghostface is more popular now than ever -- thanks in part to the new creative team, Radio Silence, who took over ahead of last year’s successful reboot.

Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillet, most known for their witty 2019 slasher Ready or Not, were at the helm again for an Easter egg-filled sixth entry, and this time they held nothing back as they moved the action from Woodsboro to New York City.

In Scream VI, Ghostface targets the core four survivors -- Samantha Carpenter (Melissa Barrera), her sister, Tara (Jenna Ortega), and twins Mindy and Chad Meeks-Martin (Jasmin Savoy Brown and Mason Gooding, respectively) -- who were first introduced in Scream (2022). This time, they're joined by a new group of friends played by Devyn Nekoda, Jack Champion, Josh Segarra and Liana Liberato.

For the first time in the 27-year franchise, Sidney Prescott does not appear in the film due to a salary dispute with actress Neve Campbell. Also sitting this one out is David Arquette following the controversial decision to kill off fan-favorite Dewey Riley in Scream 5. Despite those absences, original star Courteney Cox returns as Gale Weathers in her most intense Ghostface encounter yet, and Hayden Panettiere reprises her role as Kirby Reed, who last appeared in 2011’s Scream 4

“These movies have everything you want in a movie inside of them,” Gillet told ET. “They’re scary, they’re funny, they’re heartfelt. Great characters at the center of them and that’s a ride that we’ll always show up for.” 

Paramount Pictures

With Scream VI earning $44 million at the biggest box office during its opening weekend -- the best for the franchise -- it’s safe to assume this duo will return to helm a seventh entry written by James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick. Ahead of the release, ET caught up with Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillet to talk about the many homages to past films, killing off legacy characters and which fan-favorite they’d like to bring back next. 

ET: Scream VI pays homage to so many of the previous films, especially Scream 2. Talk about matching the suspense and tension of the recording studio and the cop car scenes. Why did you want to do that? 

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: I think we look to that as sort of a guiding light for how to follow up a movie that you're proud of that people like and I think you know, one of the things we took from Scream 2 besides the setting of college and stuff, what was really cool to us was those set pieces in Scream 2 are so iconic, and those are some of our favorite in the entire franchise. And so to have the opportunity on this one to do something similar and really blow those out. That was a big part of it. 

Tyler Gillet: Those are like the two touchstones for us. That is a perfect example of how Kevin and Wes were always stacking one obstacle on top of another. 

Now can we expect if you do another, will Scream 7 take notes from Scream 3 then? Will Hollywood play a significant role like it did in that entry? 

TG: That's a good question. We're not really sure what the path would be for 7 but I think built into the DNA of what this franchise is, they always have to take a risk and reinvent themselves. I think it's why 5 and 6 feel so different. Everything that we did in 5 we wanted to really challenge in 6 and so I imagine Guy and James are probably holed up somewhere writing right now and have a big weird plan for Scream 7. We have no idea what it is.  

After killing off Dewey in Scream 5, did you ever consider killing off another legacy character in this one? With Gale, was there a version shot where she doesn't pull through or was it always the plan to keep both her and Kirby alive again? 

MB: It was always the plan to keep them alive. You know I think we still have residual…

TG: Sadness.

MB: Sadness.  

TG: Guilt... 

MB: …About Dewey you know, we felt that that was really important for that movie, but for this one we talked about this as a secret feel good movie a lot and that was a part of it.

Sidney gets mentioned a few times throughout the film, you guys give her a happy ending. With Neve Campbell deciding not to return, how much did that change the overall vision? Was it an overhaul to change a killer reveal or who ends up dying? Was any of that tweaked because of her not returning? 

TG: No, the bones of the story were very much the same. And I think that one of the things that we're really proud of is that there are echoes of Sidney in this movie and I don't think there's a way for there to not be echoes of her in any movie going forward. I think that you know, she's the first thing we fell in love with in the franchise and I hope that that love and care for her characters is present in this as well.

Neve did tell ET that on her end the door is still open she would come back potentially. So if you do a Scream 7 are you guys leaving the door open for Sidney or because you gave her the happy ending you don't want to go down that path? 

TG: Dude, we brought back Billy Loomis as a hallucination. Anything is possible. 

Paramount Pictures

Let's talk about the core four because a lot of people's reactions after seeing the film are that the core four at this point kind of rivals the original trio, you care about them just as much. Talk about creating that dynamic and keeping all of them alive as well and why that was so important. I was thrilled that Chad pulled through after a close call with Ghostface. 

MB: We pulled a Dewey! You know, it's what we're saying about this being a secret feel good movie, which our read of the first movie is very similar where there's the original trio and of course Randy [Jamie Kennedy], they all survived and that's really special to us. And I think it's why it's so rewatchable and why we all love it. And Guy and James when they're writing the script for this, they were able to really lean into the strengths of all of those actors, because we've worked with them on the last one and it was so special to watch their friendships off camera being mirrored on camera, you know, and they've gone through something in real life and now they're going through something in the movie with Ghostface. Those scenes to us are the most special in the whole movie because there's something so palpable and authentic about it. And that's what we got from Wes and Kevin, you have to make the characters first. 

TG: It's one of the benefits of this movie happening so quickly after 5 that we find the characters so shortly after the events of the last movie, and they're in that really weird messy stage of dealing with the events of 5 you don't have to reintroduce some new conflict right into those characters lives it's really immediate, that proximity created some immediacy in just what's happening emotionally that we thought was really interesting to explore.

You brought back Skeet Ulrich as Billy again as a hallucination, who else from the five previous films would you want to bring back, whether alive or dead? 

MB: Parker Posey [from Scream 3].  

TG: Yeah, that's a good answer. I mean, look, I know I'm gonna step in it but…

MB: You're gonna say Stu! 

TG: Stu Macher [Matthew Lillard in Scream]. 

MB: [Laughs]

TG: Just full Star Wars Force ghost all of them.

Scream VI is now playing in theaters. 

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length. 


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