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SYFY WIRE Scream 4

Wes Craven's Scream 4 Was Supposed to Kick Off a New Trilogy — So What Happened?

The return of Ghostface to the big screen took a little longer than expected...

By Josh Weiss
Ghostface (Roger Jackson) flips a light switch in Scream 4 (2011).

Ghostface's return to the big screen was never supposed to take that long.

The eventual 11-year gap between the fourth and fifth Scream films (ironically, this was also the same amount of time between the third and fourth installments) did not factor into the original plan agreed upon by director Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson. Because Scream 4 (now streaming on Peacock) was originally supposed to kick off its own new trilogy, until it... didn't.

RELATED: Kevin Williamson on why he regrets killing Randy in 'Scream 2,' reveals how they used fake scripts

Scream 4 was supposed to kick off a new trilogy

"Going into [Scream 4] the first meeting I had with Kevin Williamson, he did sketch out a Scream 5 and 6. The idea was that we were doing the first in a new trilogy,” Craven — who passed away in 2015 at the age of 76 — revealed during an interview with MovieWeb (via IndieWire) in late 2011. "We had to wait to see if we made enough money on each film to make the next one viable. If that happens, [Kevin Williamson and producer Bob Weinstein] will come up with the concepts and an idea that is worth fulfilling."

What happened to Wes Craven's second Scream trilogy?

It pretty much comes down to box office sales. Unlike its predecessors, Scream 4 — which poked fun at the burgeoning concept of internet fame — failed to crack $100 million worldwide. In other words, the long-awaited sequel "never took off in a way they hoped," Williamson remarked in 2014 (via Bloody Disgusting), adding that he was no longer in the franchise loop.

Had he and Craven been allowed to continue the story, Scream 5 would have featured the return of Sidney Prescott's killer cousin, Jill Roberts (Emma Roberts). She goes on to attend college where a brand-new murderer, aware of Jill's actions in the previous movie, begins to slash up campus. "It was killer meets killer," Williamson told the Horror Queens podcast last year. "And Sidney [Neve Campbell] was a professor at that school."

Indeed, an earlier version of the Scream 4 script ended with Jill surviving. That may have changed when Ehren Kruger (recently known for his work on Tim Burton's live-action Dumbo and Joseph Kosinski's Top Gun: Maverick) was brought in for on-set rewrites

"It's ultimately controlled by what the studio wants in the script. My job is much more bringing whatever experience and expertise and creativity I can," Craven confessed to Total Film in 2011. "Look, there was a bumpy period when things shifted over from Kevin to Ehren. I signed up to do a script by Kevin and unfortunately that didn't go all the way through the shooting."

Ghostface holds a knife up in Scream Vi

The original plan for Scream 6, meanwhile, "was gonna answer whatever happened between Dewey [David Arquette] and Gale [Courtney Cox],” Williamson added on the aforementioned podcast.

Rather than hand down the green-light for more films, though, Dimension retooled the lucrative IP into a television series (executive produced by Craven prior to his death), which ran for a total of three seasons between 2015 and 2019.

It would take another three years for a fifth movie (part soft reboot and part legacy sequel) to hit theaters by way of Radio Silence filmmakers: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett. Simply called Scream (à la 2011's The Thing and 2018's Halloween) and executive produced by Williamson, the project reinvigorated the series and led to an immediate follow-up, which shifted the action from Woodsboro to New York City. A seventh chapter is currently in development from Happy Death Day and Freaky director, Christopher Landon.

Scream 4 is now streaming on Peacock.