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Scream 2 Script Urban Legend Explained by Kevin Williamson

Jan 1, 2023


Scream 2 went through a rather unusual writing process. Due to the speed with which the screenplay needed to be completed, fake scripts circulating, and extensive changes that were being made on set during production, there are a lot of rumors out there about how exactly Scream 2 made it from original concept to script to screen.

With the film celebrating its 25th anniversary, Scream 2 writer and executive producer Kevin Williamson joined me for a chat to shed some light on what it really took to see the sequel through to fruition, beginning with the reported Scream 2 treatments he penned.

The first sentence of the “writing” section on the film’s Wikipedia page states, “While writing the script for Scream, Williamson also developed two five-page treatments for potential sequels.” Williamson’s response to that? “There’s so much urban legend about this.”
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Image via Miramax

He went on to clarify how the Scream 2 script really came to be, beginning with the process of finding a buyer for the first film’s screenplay:

“When I wrote the first script, I gave it to my agent on a Friday to read, and I was so panicked. It was the first time I’d given a script to this agent and I was so nervous they would hate it and not get it. But I didn’t know what to do, so I started writing the opening scene of Scream 2, which was the theater scene where Jada Pinkett is attacked. I wrote that entire scene, and then I continued on and that’s when I wrote the treatment for the sequel. And then I thought, ‘Well, I should send this to my agent, too.’ I sent that to my agent and he read the script and went, ‘Oh my god, this is a franchise.’”

Williamson’s agent seized the opportunity and made sure potential buyers knew of the concept’s series potential. Williamson continued:

“They went out with a spec script to all of the potential buyers and anyone who was interested … The studio made it where [if] we’re gonna make an offer [or] we’re considering making an offer, they sent the treatment so that they could see it was a franchise to better sell the script. And then that was it. And then I sold it to Dimension Films and then the rest is history.”

Seems pretty straightforward, right? It is, but given all the attention the Scream script was getting and the eagerness to learn the identity of the killers, Williamson and director Wes Craven found themselves in a situation where they needed to be extremely protective of the ending of the script. Williamson explained:

“I think where the urban legend comes in that I wrote two [Scream 2 spec scripts] is, while we were writing Scream, there was so much heat on the script about who’s the killer, who’s this? There was so much interest in the story that we wrote three different endings because when we were passing out the script for casting, we stopped it at page 75 or 80, and we wouldn’t let anyone read the ending. Or, if they wanted to read the script, they had to come into the office and read it and then leave it. And Wes was very, very careful about who could and could not read the script. And then what happened was, I was [thinking], ‘This is gonna get out. This is going to leak.’ So what I did was, me and my assistant at the time, he wrote a dummy script and had a dummy ending. I think Dewey was the killer.”

The actual Scream 2 script did in fact leak as Williamson predicted, but that dummy script still played a very important role in the effort to preserve the film’s biggest secrets. Williamson recalled, “The first leaked script that went out was the fake one, so by the time the real one went out, no one believed it.”

That’s a major plus, but preserving the mystery was just one of many immense challenges Williamson faced while making Scream 2. The studio insisted on releasing the sequel in December of 1997, just a year after the first film hit theaters. Of course, that left Williamson with minimal time to pen the script.

“They wanted it to be released in the same timeframe as the first film, like in December, so we had to go, and I was just starting the first season of Dawson’s Creek. I was trying to write those episodes with a writers rooms and also write Scream. It was a nightmare. That whole year was a blur. I can’t even remember it. So it’s like, when they ask me to talk about Scream 2, I’m like, ‘I can’t remember anything.’ It was just such a blur.”

While the making of the movie was very much a blur, Williamson was able to pinpoint a few distinct memories including three scenes that changed significantly. “The ending changed a lot. We changed the dialogue, the motives, all those speeches.” He continued, “I remember sitting in the theater with Laurie Metcalf and we were going over how to say what she was gonna say.”

While finishing that thought, the biggest change of all came to Williamson; “Oh, the library scene! Where [Liev Schreiber] had a big speech, and he accosted her in the stairwell. That changed a lot. I must have written that scene 20 times.” Here’s what Williamson said when asked why that particular beat changed so much:

“I wanted the ending where Sidney throws it to Cotton at the end and lets him be the hero. All he wanted to do was to be exonerated and so all the press went to him, and I wanted that moment at the end because I thought it was very heroic of Sidney to do that, and winning for her, and also good for him. I think there was some conversation, the studio wanted it one way and they wanted him to be much more of a villain and be much more of a red herring … and I’m like, ‘You’re gonna think it anyway. Just the fact that he’s standing there, you’re gonna think that he could be a potential killer.’ So that speech got rewritten and rewritten, and finally Liev put his foot down and said, ‘This is the way I want to say,’ and he was right and he won.”

Image via Dimension Films

Williamson also shared a memory of one particular scene that was re-shot entirely.

“I remember that we shot the classroom scene, the film studies scene, twice. We shot it once and I think something went wrong with the shooting of it. I think it was a location problem. It didn’t look right or there was something wrong with the dailies. I can’t remember, and I wish Wes was here because he — they said, ‘Oh, you’re gonna re-shoot it.’ I went, ‘Oh, you’re gonna re-shoot it? Okay, good! Because here’s the scene I want you to film.’ [Laughs] Hindsight is 20/20. I just wrote a better scene.”

Even though Williamson referred to the making of Scream 2 as being “one big blur of panic” a few times during our conversation, the work (and panic) that went into it paid off because the end result is one of the best horror movie sequels of all time.

Given the success Williamson’s found in that department, I opted to wrap our conversation by asking him for the secret sauce. All these years later, what’s a key part of the process of writing a horror movie sequel that’s stayed the same? Here’s what he went with:

“We live in the age where everyone has seen it and done it and been there. I’ve decided that there’s really no new stories to tell in a lot of ways, so it’s really about execution and it’s really about your characters. I think the trick to writing sequels or writing horror in general is to write emotional horror because if we don’t care, there’s no point. And I just think that you have to figure out where you’re going to bring the heart and the soul of your character alive so that the audience cares. I feel like Sidney connects to a lot of people and I think Laurie Strode connects. You connect with Laurie Strode, anyone who survived that kind of trauma. I think Neve was very smart about saying, ‘Why don’t we put her as an advocate for victims in the sequel?’ It was her idea to do all that and I think she was very smart about it. And I like the idea that Sidney has now spent her life being an advocate for other survivors of trauma and violence. So now, how do you not care about someone who spends their life doing that, you know? I think that you’ve just got to care — emotion, emotion.”

Hopes are high that the team behind Scream VI will stick with that mentality and keep the emotion sky-high in the new installment. While we wait for the franchise’s latest entry to hit theaters on March 10, 2023, be sure to snag a copy of Scream 2’s new 4K release in celebration of its 25th anniversary.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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