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Scream's Iconic Intro Got Wes Craven In Trouble

Horror fans and casual viewers alike are familiar with the bloody fate that awaits Drew Barrymore's Casey Becker in those thrilling opening minutes of Wes Craven's 1996 film "Scream." As the stovetop popcorn expands and crackles, the tension builds, while Ghostface looms in on the unsuspecting blonde. "Scream" utilizes Barrymore's celebrity status to sharply subvert the audience's expectations when the masked killer tears her apart in a gruesome display of Craven's signature gore.

The unconventional approach initially made studio executives uneasy (via People), as the assumed lead of the film was butchered within the first 15 minutes. In a more formulaic approach, Barrymore's Casey could've been the film's final girl, like Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) in "A Nightmare on Elm Street" or Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) with Michel Myers in "Halloween." Casey's early and fatal face-off with Ghostface is now a hallmark of the horror franchise that was even homaged in the 2022 reboot/sequel "Scream." 

The tribute brings the sequence into modern times with a text exchange that showcases the name "Wes" as a clever shoutout to the late visionary. Jenna Ortega's Tara Carpenter parallels Barrymore's Casey stunningly with similar body language and even a knit sweater similar to her 1996 counterpart. This elevates the meta-commentary on the horror genre landscape and tops the beginning off with an exceptional subversion fitting of the self-reflective franchise. These elements are an extraordinary testimony to Craven's groundbreaking film and the extraordinary example Barrymore's scene set, even with the initial hesitation from cautious studio heads. 

Dimension Films originally disliked Barrymore's gripping opening

As Casey shrieked out for her parents, studio executives seemingly rolled their eyes over Craven's early footage of the film's legendary opening sequence. Unfortunately, the grisly display didn't captivate Dimension Films' top decision-makers the way it did enthusiastic horror lovers. Film editor Patrick Lussier revisited the early days of the film with The Hollywood Reporter, sharing: "The first sequence that was shot was the Drew Barrymore sequence. The studio hated the dailies. They sent him dailies from their remake of Nightwatch and said, 'You've got to look at this. This is how a movie's made.'" 

The blunt response crushed the innovative filmmaker at first, which screenwriter Kevin Williamson shared with The Hollywood Reporter: "I'll never forget, we were sitting in the parking lot of the grocery store and we were filming the news footage of Liev Schreiber [Cotton Weary] walking out and being put into a car and ushered away. Wes got the phone call from the studio, and I was sitting behind him in my chair, and I just saw his back slump. He just started sliding down the chair. They didn't think anything about it was good. They didn't understand the lack of footage and they didn't see his vision for that sequence at all."

THR also notes executive Bob Weinstein as one of the largest barriers originally, but eventually came around after seeing the edited cut. Thankfully, Patrick Lussier captured Craven's chilling vision in a sublime fashion, gifting us this singular opening sequence.