Accordingly to Still Screaming documentary, during the 2 year gap between the second and the third movie, Kevin Williamson became overwhelmed (and tired) with a lot of projects. He had written a 12-page treatment for Scream 3 where...
The killers were basically a Fanclub of Woodsboro kids that had formed because of Stab 1 and Stab 2. They were all doing the killings and the big surprise of the movie was when Sidney walked into the house after Ghost Face had killed everyone… and they all rose up. None of them were actually dead and they’d planned the whole thing… The motive was their quest for fame, they were trying to top [Sidney's] Woodsboro story so they could be the legacy of their hometown. Kevin Williamson
This was revealed to Entertainment Tonight, right before the release of The Following, in 2013. Matthew Lillard (Stu, in Scream) was even hired to be a part of this chapter, probably as the mentor to those kids. Very similar plot to the FOX TV show.
But, because of the delays, the studio got impatient and decided to go on with the project, sadly, without Williamson. So they brought Ehren Krueger to pen the script - along with Laeta Kalogridis, Wes Craven and even some of the actors giving ideas to their characters - like Carrie Fisher, who helped rewrite some of her lines.
Some of Kevin's ideas are still in there. His treatment had to do with the same thing that the movie does now, which is the filming of Stab 3. His original treatment had the story taking place in Woodsboro. I came on and said […] 'Instead of bringing Hollywood to Woodsboro, let's take these characters to Hollywood and give them a bigger haunted house to run around'. Ehren Krueger, Fangoria
Williamson's treatment was dropped due the moral issues that the whole cinema industry was facing after Columbine.
They started to shoot without a completed script, what was reported by some of the actors as a chaotic, but very creative set. That was even brought to the movie in a scene where Sarah Darling (Jenny McCarthy) complaints about the constant rewrites and 3 different endings. That was art imitating life - they couldn't have the script leaked on the internet again. So, the script is all meta and humor - mostly to ease the tension around horror at that particular time.
That reflected even on the amount of artificial blood used on screen. Scream 3 used 10 gallons, the first movie splashed 50 gallons and 30 for the second.
The studio was going to do it bloodless, with no violence at all… Wes kind of came in and said, 'Be serious, guys. Either we make a Scream movie or we call it something else'. Ehren Krueger, Fangoria
Scream 3 is definitely not a Readers Digest condensation of its predecessors. Wes Craven
Another problem was the actors agenda and a certain resistance to comeback: Neve Campbell was filming Party Of Five and Drowning Mona at the time, which allowed her to be on the set for just 20 days. Campbell also seemed to have issues on being on a horror movie again. She didn't want to be recognized just for that type of role.
If she doesn't want to be in it, then we'll write it without her. The good thing about Scream 3 is I've got three plans. There's the Sid version, the Sid-less version, and the bottom line is the story itself doesn't rely so much on her character. It's not so much about Sidney anymore. It's about the world that was created with Stab. The story itself thematically works, regardless of who is in it. Kevin Williamson, in the early stages
But it wasn't all trouble on the set: Courteney Cox and David Arquette married a month before principal photography of Scream 3.
Many actors were considered, offered roles and auditioned. Here are some of the reported/rumored:
Christine Hamilton - Liv Tyler, Jennifer Connelly, Alicia Silverstone, Kate Winslet, Shannen Doherty, Charisma Carpenter, Rachel True, Keri Russell, Alyssa Milano and Denise Richards.
Jennifer Jolie - Teri Hatcher, Selma Blair and Téa Leoni.
Sarah Darling - Tara Reid, Monica Arnold and Ali Larter.
Angelina Tyler - Alicia Silverstone, Claire Danes, Christie Clark, Alyson Hannigan, Kellie Martin and Eliza Dushku.
Tom Prinze - Paul Walker, Josh Hartnett James Van Der Beek, Johnathan Jackson, Glenn Quinn, Ethan Erickson and Charlie O'Connell (Jerry O'Connell's brother).
Mark Kincaid - David Boreanaz.
Martha Meeks - Fairuza Balk.
Steven Stone - Steve Austin.
John Milton - Wes Craven and Christopher Walken.
Bianca Burnette - Heather Locklear and Jamie Lee Curtis.
Roman Bridger - Benicio Del Toro.
- Ben Affleck was considered for a role, probably in the opening scene.
- Kate Hudson was officially announced, most likely for the roles of Christine or Sarah Darling, but later she was replaced.
- One idea during development had Tori Spelling returning as herself portraying Sidney in Stab 3. At one point, the character of Joel played by Duane Martin was set to return as well.
Principal photography for Scream 3 began on July 6, 1999 in and around Hollywood, Los Angeles on a budget of $40 million and finished on September 29, 1999 after twelve weeks.
Here are some fun facts of the production:
- A scene in the film involved Campbell being pursued by Ghostface through filmset replicas of locations from the original Scream including her character's home. The scene was not present in the script itself, but Craven paid to have the sets constructed, knowing he wanted to revisit the original film in some manner. After the construction of the sets, the scene was then written around the resulting areas producing the scene in the final film.
- Patrick Dempsey, who was hired the day before shooting began. He had one night to learn three big dialog-heavy scenes.
- Neve Campbell's character on Drowning Mona had long, streaked hair, so Campbell had to wear a wig to play Sidney Prescott, which required two hours application time, each morning.
- It was only after English actress Emily Mortimer had been cast that the production discovered that she didn't have a permit to work in the States. Mortimer was flown to Canada where she was able to obtain the correct permit just as production got underway.
- The Canfield-Moreno Estate, a mansion in Silverlake, aka John Milton's mansion, was also a location for Halloween: H20 and lots of other movies.
Instead of stick to the horror movies references, the third act directed itself to trilogy references.
Star Wars became it's major source of referential inspiration: the blood connection between Sidney and Roman (mirroring Darth Vader, Luke and Leia's problematic and secret lineage) and Carrie Fisher's cameo being the clearest allusion.
This is like the Star Wars of horror. Wes Craven, The Hollywood Reporter
For example, in his post-mortem tape, Randy mentions Return of the Jedi (1983) and The Godfather: Part III (1990), by saying that in both trilogies a lie is uncovered - Obi-Wan told Luke the truth about his earlier statement, that Darth Vader murdered his father and we learn that Sonny had a son by the woman he'd been having an affair with in the first film. That's very relatable to Maureen and Roman's backstory.
Science fiction franchises such as The Terminator and Alien are homaged by the apparition of Lance Henriksen. In a certain scene, a prop that is very reminiscent of the T-800 endo skeleton appears in his office. Also, his character name, John Milton, is the same of Al Pacino's character on The Devil's Advocate (1997) and the 17th century author of Paradise Lost. In the poem...
Satan deceives Adam and Eve to choose a temptation over God's Eden. Their decision leaves them expelled from Eden and forever corrupted. Producer John Milton, in Scream 3 dupes Maureen Prescott into believing that she can become successful in Hollywood by performing sexual favors. In a fashion similar to Adam and Eve, Maureen loses her innocence to false promises of grandeur, receiving only bit parts in Milton's films during the classic age of the industry. As a result of her corruption by Milton, Maureen embraces promiscuity.
And speaking on Hollywood's past, posters of classic movies such as Sunrise (1927), Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932) and Kiss Me Deadly (1955) appear.
Hitchcock's masterpieces Psycho (1960) and Vertigo (1958) have the plots mixed by Sarah Darling, adding some comedy to it - element that continues on Krueger's script, when it gets a cartunesque tone from Clue (1995) and Scooby-Doo, as the characters become parody investigators and are trapped in a big mansion with secret rooms.
Another nod to comedy is added by the appearance of Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes, as Jay and Silent Bob from Smith's movies. Later, Wes Craven appeared on Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)... directing a Scream sequel.
Well, as we've mentioned, Scream 3 doesn't rely on the slasher flicks as the other two, but on thrillers like Se7en (1995), The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and Reservoir Dogs (1992).
In closing, it wouldn't be a Scream movie without the pop culture jokes... The love triangle of Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston is very present. Even the names of the characters, Angelina Tyler and Jennifer Jolie, address to that. But the name combinations don't stop there: Tom Prinze is a permutation of Tom Cruise and Freddie Prinze Jr.
Other personalities like Connie Chung, Julia Roberts, Salmon Rushdie and Posh Spice are mentioned.
Beth Toussaint - The woman's voice on the opening scene.
Roger Corman - the "king" producer of low budget B-movies as an executive of Sunrise Studios.
Wes Craven - does the Hitchcock by appearing as a tourist on Sunrise Studios, guided by...
Lisa Beach - who is also the casting director of the movies.
Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes - show up on the same scene, playing Jay and Silent Bob.
Heather Matarazzo - as Randy's sister, Martha Meeks.
Jamie Kennedy - ressurecting Randy on videotape.
Carrie Fisher - playing an former actress that resembles a lot with... Carrie Fisher.
Lawrence Hecht - reprising his role as Neil Prescott.
C.W. Morgan - Billy's father, from the first movie!
Nancy O'Dell - Since Scream 2, the co-anchor of Entertainment Tonight does cameos on the franchise as a reporter or an interviewer.
In January 2000, three months after completing principal photography for Scream 3, the ending was refilmed when it was decided to be an inadequate conclusion.
Craven encountered repeated conflicts over censorship with the MPAA regarding violence, with the director stating in an interview that the issues made him consider leaving the horror genre.
The film set a record in its opening weekend in February 2000 for the number of screens in the United States with 3,467, which also made it the 7th widest opening for an R-Rated film.
The film earned $34,713,342 during its opening weekend making it the 11th highest grossing opening weekend in a February and went on to accrue $89,143,175 in the US and $72,700,000 in foreign territories with a world lifetime-gross of $161,843,175 making it the second-lowest financially performing film in the Scream series, with the lowest being Scream 4.
Scream 3 received generally mixed-to-negative reviews.
- When Sydney is in the police station, she's on the phone with the killer on a cell phone. When the killer hangs up, you can hear a dial tone. You wouldn't be able to hear a dial tone on a cell phone.
- When Gale is eavesdropping on Dewey and Jennifer talking about her, when Dewey says ".. I left out the part where she's cruel and selfish" his lips clearly aren't moving.
- When Sarah Darling is in the empty production offices of Sunrise Studios, she is looking for Roman Bridger, the director of Stab 3. However, when Sarah calls for Roman in an office, she clearly says, "Ronan," not "Roman."
- When the killer calls Sidney while she is at the police station, the word, "Nokia" is visible on the bottom of the phone. In the next scene it disappears, and then reappears in a later scene.
- When Gale reaches for the voice changer, she has blood on the top of her hand. When she puts the voice changer to her mouth, there is no blood.
- Roman Bridger's sideburns shorten and lengthen in the final scenes.
- When Dewey unties Gale she lifts her and up and we see rope on her hand. In the next shot the rope is gone.
- Christine gets out of the shower and steps on the towel, but when she gets dressed and starts to walk down the hallway, her feet are still soaking wet.
- After Jennifer's house blows up, when Dewey fires at Ghostface you can clearly hear 7 shots. Revolvers only hold 6.
- When Sidney jumps out of the window in the Sunrise Studios, and Dewey comes to her, there's a point where she is looking down, and the camera angle changes to show her looking right at Dewey.
- When Sidney goes through the door that leads to nowhere, she holds on and grips the wall frame. She could not have closed the door from her location because it was almost fully open and out of reach (though some viewers have claimed she could have used her foot).
- When Ghostface is after Christine his knife makes a large hole in the door. When Cotton later approaches the door the damage is a series of narrow slits.
- Kincaid's collar after putting on his jacket in the "What's your favorite scary movie?" scene
- When Dewey first gets his gun out of the trailer, you can clearly see it's a Beretta 92-Compact in a black holster. But throughout the rest of the movie he uses a heavy duty snub (.44?) Revolver in a brown holster.
- On the hot set of Sidney's room the longest side of the table is flat against the wall with the bed. When Ghostface is thrown from the false door above the set, the table is rotated with its shortest edge against the wall with the bed, making the bed closer, so Ghostface could land on it.
- Sidney is wearing black, high-heeled boots in the middle section of the film, but does not appear to be wearing them while waiting in the police station later in the film when the killer calls her. However, in the last part of the film, when Sidney arrives at the house, she is wearing boots again as she can be seen pulling not one but two guns from them.
- Shape of the cuts on Dewey's forehead throughout the film.
- After Jennifer's death, Gale is attacked and uses her leg to push herself and the killer down the basement stairs. They fall in, and it is shown that the door opens inwards, but in the next shot, the door is shown to be closing inwards from the outside.
- In the opening sequence, we see Cotton's girlfriend Christina step out of the shower. In the next shot, she is wearing perfect makeup.
Crew or equipment visible
- You can faintly see the wire going across the screen holding the spinning knife right before it hits Dewey in the forehead.
- When Cotton is on two wireless telephones at the same time, he puts one phone on hold even though the brand and model does not have a hold feature.
Incorrectly regarded as goofs
- In the "....whoever smells the gas" scene the killer has cut the power to the house, but the pool lights remain on and the fax machine works. A uninterruptible power supply (U.P.S.) is plainly visible next to the fax machine, which may be unusual, but certainly makes it possible for faxes to be received and printed.
- In Sidney's first scene, she enters 1288* on the alarm-system keypad on the road gate, and then twenty seconds later enters 1288# on the alarm-system keypad inside her house on the wall next to the door. It is entirely possible that 1288* arms the road-gate alarm and 1288# arms the house alarm.
- When Christine is running from the killer, she locks herself in a room. The killer makes a single thin linear hole in the door with his knife, but he then twists the knife, turning it into the circle we see later.
- When the killer chases Sidney through the set, Sidney opens a door that leads nowhere and climbs through it to the side of the set out of view of the camera. The killer would have known the door goes nowhere, but it would not have stopped the killer from opening it. The killer falls because Sidney pulled the killer's shirt.
- When Jennifer uses her card to gain access to the Sunrise Studio Archives she clearly swipes her card the wrong way.
- When Ghostface throws Tyson off of the balcony, his leg flashes in the bottom-right corner as he lands on a mat.
- When Sidney inspects the newspaper clippings in her police file, it's clear upon closer inspection that the stories have nothing to do with their headlines.
- After Sidney jumps from the second story window, you can see the ground bounce beneath her as if a padded surface is concealed under the grass.
- Character error: At the beginning Cotton is talking to his publicist Andrea. He is saying he won't do a cameo for Stab 3 for less than $1 million. But when he is killed and Sidney overhears the news report, the reporter says that he already finished filming his cameo.
- Continuity: There is blood on Roman's elbow when Gale approaches the coffin in the basement. But it disappears when Gale lifts the coffin lid.
- Incorrectly regarded as goofs: In the final fight between Sidney and the killer, she stabs him in the back with an ice pick. Then she picks up his knife, but only to throw it out of reach. She can be seen removing the ice pick before stabbing him with it a second time.
- Incorrectly regarded as goofs: Jennifer says she is next to die in the script of Stab 3, which Dewey confirms. However, when Jennifer is about to be murdered, she says "You can't kill me. I'm the killer in Stab 3". Jennifer is saying what she hopes will stop the killer from stabbing her. In addition, there were three versions of the script, and she might have been the killer in one of them. Also, she may have been the killer in the script and seemingly dead, but not actually dead, like Billy Loomis in Scream.
- Revealing mistakes: Obvious stunt double for Dewey when he falls down the stairs after the killer throws the knife at him
-Revealing mistakes: In the opening sequence when Cotton is murdered, the room he and Christine are in clearly has a skylight in the ceiling, but once Cotton is thrown over the desk and looks up at the killer, there is no skylight. It is because two different opening scenes where shot, and the end of the scene when Cotton is looking up at the killer took place in an entirely different room.