Neve Campbell’s Sidney Prescott has played a pivotal role across the entire Scream film franchise. She is a truly iconic scream queen. So with the news that Neve Campbell won’t be returning for Scream 6 what will the series’ future look like? And why has she decided not to return? Let’s find out.
Scream (2022) Recap
When Tara Carpenter is attacked by a new Ghostface costumed killer, her half-sister Sam seeks help from Dewey Riley, as he helped with the investigations of all the prior Ghostface killings. Following the murder of several of Sam’s friends and Dewey, news reporter Gale Weathers (Dewey’s ex-wife) and Sidney Prescott (Dewey’s best friend) try to help solve the case. Eventually, the killers are revealed as Stab fans (films based on events seen in the franchise) wanting to provide better material for future Stab filmmakers by getting the oldest Ghostface survivors back together. After helping Tara and Sam defeat the killers Sidney assures Sam that, given time, she will heal from her experiences. Gale commits to eulogizing Dewey rather than publicising the killers before Sam accompanies Tara to the hospital.
Scream Without Sidney
Many horror fans have asked why Neve Campbell is not returning for Scream 6? In a statement, Campbell said her exit was related to pay. After 25 years with the franchise and fighting hard to be valued in the industry she said she was not offered enough to justify her return. Which is entirely understandable. After all, Neve Campbell has given Scream she has the right to step away if she isn’t paid her worth. Especially given how much the series makes at the box office. But this raises the question, how can the franchise continue without its main star?
Not All Horror Heroes Return
Many of Scream (2022)’s survivors have already been confirmed to be starring in Scream 6. Courteney Cox will be returning as Gale, the only series mainstay, along with prior series cast members like Hayden Panettiere. This is an unusual angle for a long-running horror series to take. Usually by the sixth entry horror franchises have become about new characters fighting the series killer. But pivoting to lesser-known characters has worked in the past.
The Saw franchise for example was originally a mystery before turning its focus to Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) in Saw 2 and 3. Then after his death Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor), a minor Saw 3 character, became the lead antagonist. With Jigsaw remaining a constant fixture through flashbacks. And after Jamie Lee Curtis didn’t return as Laurie Strode for Halloween 4 the Halloween series made Laurie’s daughter Jamie (Danielle Harris) the series protagonist. Meanwhile, Donald Pleasence continued appearing as series mainstay Dr. Sam Loomis.
Although the choices of these series displeased some fans of the established leads they ensured that their series went on. These approaches provided series continuity. They also kept fans on board by including other beloved characters in their stories. And because the writers focused on making Jamie and Hoffman interesting they quickly became fan favourites. So as long as Scream’s good character writing remains intact and they don’t ruin Sidney’s legacy by killing her off-screen the series could go on with new leads.
Can Scream 6 Succeed?
Some may say continuing the Scream films without Campbell means the series will lose its unique identity. But both the TV series and Scream (2022) managed to shift the focus in whole or in part onto new protagonists. Despite mixed critical reception, the series lasted 3 seasons and Scream (2022) earned over $140 million worldwide. Proving that the franchise can continue and be popular without focusing on Sidney.
Unfortunately, the films have wrung every drop out of satirizing slasher films. So short of a full reboot if the series is to remain ongoing Sidney can’t be a constant forever. But with interesting new leads like Sam and Tara and legacy actors still on board the series has the potential to please fans old and new. Of course, Sidney could always return if next time the studio makes Neve Campbell a better offer. But why bring back one of the most beloved final girls when you can save some money?