The Scream franchise, which has been revived with a successful 2022 film, is facing a major crisis as its two new leading ladies have left the project. Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega, who played sisters Sam and Tara Carpenter in the previous two installments, have both departed from Scream 7 under different circumstances. Barrera was fired due to her controversial social media posts about the Israel-Hamas conflict, while Ortega reportedly quit due to a salary dispute. What does this mean for the future of the beloved horror series?
Melissa Barrera, who played the main protagonist Sam Carpenter in Scream and Scream 6, was fired from Scream 7 by Spyglass Media Group, the production company behind the franchise. The reason for her dismissal was her pro-Palestinian stance, which she expressed on her Instagram account amid the ongoing violence in the Middle East. Barrera posted a series of stories that criticized Israel’s actions and called for an end to the oppression of Palestinians. She also shared a link to a petition that demanded the United States stop funding Israel’s military.
Barrera’s posts drew criticism from some fans and industry insiders, who accused her of being anti-Semitic and spreading misinformation. Spyglass Media Group, which is owned by Lantern Entertainment, a company founded by two Jewish brothers, decided to terminate her contract and remove her from Scream 7. The company issued a statement that said:
We are deeply disappointed by Melissa Barrera’s inflammatory and offensive comments on social media. We do not condone or support any form of hate speech, bigotry, or discrimination. As a result, we have decided to part ways with her and recast her role in Scream 7.
Barrera, however, did not apologize or retract her statements. Instead, she stood by her views and defended her right to speak out. She posted another story that said:
I am not anti-Semitic. I am anti-oppression, anti-occupation, anti-apartheid, anti-colonialism, anti-genocide. I am pro-human rights, pro-justice, pro-peace, pro-freedom. I will not be silenced by threats or intimidation. I will not let anyone erase my voice or my identity. I am proud to be a Latina, a Mexican, a Palestinian.
Barrera’s firing sparked outrage and backlash from many fans and celebrities, who supported her and condemned Spyglass Media Group for censoring her. Some of the notable names who expressed their solidarity with Barrera included Rosario Dawson, Gina Rodriguez, America Ferrera, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Many fans also launched a boycott campaign against Scream 7, using the hashtag #BoycottScream7 on social media.
Ortega’s Exit Adds More Trouble to the Franchise
As if Barrera’s firing was not enough, Scream 7 also lost its other new final girl, Jenna Ortega, who played Sam’s sister Tara Carpenter. Ortega, who rose to fame with her Netflix show Wednesday, had become a fan favorite and a potential successor to Neve Campbell’s iconic Sidney Prescott. However, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Ortega’s exit had nothing to do with Barrera’s firing or the Israel-Hamas conflict. Instead, it was allegedly due to a salary dispute.
The report claims that Ortega, who did not have a deal in place for Scream 7, asked for a high seven-figure salary, which was more than what she was paid for the previous films. Spyglass Media Group, however, refused to meet her demands and offered her a six-figure salary instead. Ortega, who felt that she deserved more for her role and popularity, decided to walk away from the franchise. Her representatives informed Spyglass Media Group of her decision before Barrera’s firing was announced.
Ortega’s exit mirrors the situation that occurred with Campbell, who also left the franchise due to a salary dispute. Campbell, who played Sidney Prescott in the first four films, did not return for Scream 6, as she felt that her salary offer was not fair for the value she brought to the series. Campbell’s absence was felt by many fans, who missed her presence and leadership in the franchise.
How Will Scream 7 Move Forward Without Its Stars?
The departures of Barrera and Ortega have left Scream 7 in a precarious position, as the film has lost its two main characters and faces a potential boycott from fans. The film, which is set to be directed by Christopher Landon, the creator of the Happy Death Day and Freaky films, was supposed to start production in early 2024, with a release date in late 2024. However, with the cast shake-up, the film may face delays and reshoots, as Spyglass Media Group will have to find new actors to replace Barrera and Ortega.
The question is, who can fill their shoes? The Scream franchise has always been known for its strong and smart female characters, who survive the attacks of the Ghostface killer and uncover the mystery behind his identity. Barrera and Ortega had successfully carried on this legacy, as they portrayed sisters who had a complicated relationship but ultimately bonded over their shared trauma and courage. Their chemistry and charisma were praised by critics and fans alike, and many were looking forward to seeing them return for Scream 7.
However, with their exits, the franchise will have to rely on other characters to take the lead. One possibility is to focus on the other two members of the new “core four,” Mindy Meeks-Martin (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad Meeks-Martin (Mason Gooding), who are the niece and nephew of Randy Meeks, the horror movie expert from the original trilogy. Mindy and Chad, who are twins, have proven to be witty, resourceful, and loyal, and have a strong fan base as well. Another option is to bring back some of the legacy characters, such as Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), who survived Scream 6 and is still a prominent journalist and author. Cox has expressed her interest in returning for Scream 7, and her character could provide some continuity and nostalgia for the franchise.
However, it remains to be seen if these options will be enough to save Scream 7 from the backlash and controversy that it is facing. The Scream franchise has been resilient to cast changes and challenges in the past, but losing its two new final girls may be too much to overcome. Scream 7 will have to work hard to win back the trust and support of its fans, who may feel betrayed and disappointed by the recent developments. Otherwise, the franchise may end up being killed off by its own mistakes.