Things are looking pretty dire for the Scream franchise right now, and it’s not because of Ghostface. After Scream VI murdered the box office with a surprise $43.5 million opening—the best of the entire franchise—this past March, Scream VII was poised to slay the competition once again. Then all of last week’s news broke.
The Tuesday before Thanksgiving, it was announced that Melissa Barrera, who starred in Scream VI as Sam Carpenter, had been fired from the franchise after posting comments on the Israel-Hamas war that producing studio Spyglass deemed to be “hate speech.” The next day, news broke that co-star Jenna Ortega, who played Sam’s sister Tara, had left the franchise as well. At the time, Ortega’s exit was pegged to scheduling conflicts with Wednesday season two and Beetlejuice 2. However, a new report from The Hollywood Reporter suggests that there was a little more to it than that.
Per THR, both Barrera and Ortega’s exits happened weeks before the news broke. Barrera was allegedly fired about a month ago when she started to speak out in the early weeks of the conflict. Ortega allegedly parted ways with the franchise months earlier.
In addition to the scheduling issues, THR reports that Ortega’s exit largely boiled down to a salary dispute. The actor’s team apparently asked for a payout in the “high seven figure” range, which Spyglass wasn’t willing to offer. Ortega had been paid six figures for her appearances in both Scream (2022) and Scream VI.
This situation almost directly mirrors original franchise star Neve Campbell’s exit in 2022. “I did not feel that what I was being offered equated to the value that I bring to this franchise, and have brought to this franchise, for 25 years,” she told People of her decision. “As a woman in this business, I think it’s really important for us to be valued and to fight to be valued.”
These shake ups don’t seem to be too much of a concern for Spyglass head Gary Barber, however. According to THR, the CEO’s takeaway has been that “neither stars nor large salaries are essential.” According to one source, “he didn’t need Neve, he doesn’t need Jenna.” As of now, both director Christopher Landon and writer James Vanderbilt are still on board for the franchise’s upcoming installment. We’ll see if Barber was right when (and if) Scream VII finally hits our screens.