And yet while famous men in Hollywood rake in millions for reprising their roles in legacy sequels, Campbell chose to exit the blockbuster franchise, which she’s been at the center of since its inception, over a salary dispute.
“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,” the actor told People in a recent interview about her decision not to reprise her role in the upcoming sequel.
“And as a woman in this business, I think it’s really important for us to be valued and to fight to be valued,” she said. “I honestly don’t believe that if I were a man and had done five installments of a huge blockbuster franchise over 25 years, that the number that I was offered would be the number that would be offered to a man.”
Once again helmed by directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, who oversaw the fifth film released earlier this year, “Scream 6” will be the first installment in the series not to star Campbell.
Since Wes Craven’s original teen slasher arrived in theaters back in 1996, Campbell’s character Sidney Prescott has survived stab wounds, gunshots and hometown killing sprees, redefining genre tropes and becoming perhaps the most iconic final girl of our modern era.
“I love these movies. I love Sidney. I love this franchise. I’m so grateful for it,” Campbell said. “But at the same time, I really just couldn’t bear the idea of walking onto [the sixth film] and feeling undervalued.”
Ultimately, the actor concluded that “in my soul, I just couldn’t do that. I couldn’t walk on set feeling the unfairness, or lack of fairness, around that.”
Campbell first announced she wouldn’t be returning for the sequel in a statement back in June, which came as a shock to horror fans everywhere.
“Sadly, I won’t be making the next ‘Scream’ film,” she said at the time. “As a woman, I have had to work extremely hard in my career to establish my value, especially when it comes to ‘Scream.’ I felt the offer that was presented to me did not equate to the value I have brought to the franchise.”
Her statement drew support from other franchise veterans, including Matthew Lillard, Jamie Kennedy, David Arquette and Emma Roberts, all of whom expressed their dismay over the decision.
“Did Tom Cruise take less money for [‘Top Gun: Maverick’]? Fuck no, dude. So, why is a woman supposed to take less?” Lillard, who appeared alongside Campbell in the original “Scream” film, said at the time. “Why wouldn’t you pay her more as the series goes on? Was ‘Scream 5’ a hit or not a hit? It was a smash hit. Did they make a shit ton of money? Yes.”
The fifth installment, which essentially served as a relaunch for the franchise, was indeed a box office success, grossing $140 million worldwide during a particularly trying time for movie theaters amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
A month after the film hit theaters, a sequel was announced with newcomers, Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, Jasmin Savoy Brown and Mason Gooding, returning alongside legacy stars Courteney Cox and Hayden Panettiere.
Campbell, however, is still keeping the door open to a future appearance in the franchise, which, as we all know, loves a surprise twist ending.
“I’m not just done with the chapter,” she told Entertainment Tonight. “If they were to come to me with an amount that felt in keeping with... the value that I bring then I would certainly consider it.”