It was 1995 and Dimension Films had just on a spec bidding war for a screenplay called Scary Movie. No one knew at the time it would go on to become one of the most important horror movies of all time. It was the beginning of a generation of new twists on horror tropes. It helped start a revolution where horror is respected and feared again. We have such a healthy horror box office today, thanks to what was retitled as... Scream

Paramount Home Entertainment is celebrating the film’s 25th anniversary by releasing it on 4K Ultra HD. And The Hollywood Reporter wrote an incredible retrospective which talks to all the key players about how the movie went on to change their lives. 

Of course, it all came from an idea someone had. As screenwriter Kevin Williamson said, "Finishing the script and actually printing it out and holding it in my hands was a big deal. I wanted to be recognized in the industry and try to get a job and just become an employable writer. I had already written Killing Mrs. Tingle, which I optioned but nothing happened. I was still struggling a lot and eating my Oodles of Noodles. So, I wrote a horror movie that I wanted to see because the genre was dead at the time and it’s my favorite. It’s what I crave and what I want to watch every night before I go to bed."

But a script can't just become a movie. It needs to sell and find people to produce it.

Scream producer Cathy Konrad remembers reading the movie, and the effect it had on her.

"The script was sent out as a spec, which was the norm back in those days. I recall reading it in my home in Nichols Canyon and scaring myself at night. Kevin had written a pitch-perfect script. We got into the game on it fairly early and we were used as a stalking horse for several of the other places that bid on it afterwards. We won and got the script."

651875-dimension_films'Scream'Credit: Dimension Films

As the legend goes, Wes Craven turned down directing the movie again and again, but eventually was able to be convinced by Dimension to take a stab at it. He agreed to meet Williamson to discuss the film. Williamson was worried when they sat down. Craven had a lot of notes.

Williamson said, "He took the meeting, and I had lunch with him. That’s one of the best days of my life. He later summoned me to his home to give me notes on my script. I thought, This is where it all falls apart. This is where the writer is kicked to the curb and never heard from again. He had pages of notes, and I was terrified because I thought he was going to change everything. A lot of them were just typos. It turns out he was an English professor. He really shot the movie I wrote and everything he added to it just made it better."

They had their producers, writer, director, but now they needed actors.

Enter Neve Campbell. She was about to embark on a role that would change her life. And she didn't even know it at the time.

Campbell says, "Although I was not very familiar with the horror genre, I was aware of what a god Wes Craven was and how greatly respected he was. I was very nervous when meeting Wes and really wanted this job. I remember being in a dressing room being made up for the screen test. I could hear the other actress who was up for the role in the room next to me. It felt so surreal to know that she would be feeling the same way I felt and that only one of us would get the role. My memory of the audition was that Wes was very gentle and very clear with what he needed from the scenes. He didn’t just sit back and wait to be impressed. He was engaged and very much in director mode. The experience made me excited at the prospect of working with him, and the experience when we finally got to making the film was like fireworks."

As the cast assembled, they had a genuine murderer's row of talent. Courtney Cox as the fiery news anchor. David Arquette as the quirky cop. Jamie Kennedy as an all-time side character. And of course Skeet Ulrich and Matthew Lillard as the hunks (and crazed killers). 

Tabw5mwwlrwaddfu6tmmf7fjbs2'Scream'Credit: Dimension Films

The movie became a battleground for Craven. He wanted it to be terrifying. He fought with the studio over the famous opening scene, almost getting fired, and he continued the fight into the final cut with the MPAA, who was disturbed by the amount of blood. 

As Williamson recalls, "When I watched the first cut of the kitchen scene at the end of the movie with Billy and Stu, it was so bloody. It was so violent and we did cut a lot of that for the MPAA. I remember saying, 'I never envisioned it this bloody, Wes. Why is it so bloody?' And he was like, 'Kevin, you wrote a scene with two guys stabbing each other in the kitchen. You tell me how to shoot it then.' And I was like, 'Okay, all right. You’re absolutely right.'"

As you know, the movie came out to fanfare and thrilled audiences everywhere. All the worries about the rating and making a movie like this disappeared as it broke out and became a hit.

Screamstill'Scream'Credit: Dimension Films

It made $103,046,663 worldwide, which was bonkers for a horror movie, or any movie at the time. Scream stood out for being so referential and fun, but the reason it caught on was that it knew which tropes to lean into and how to emulate the success other horror movies had by really scaring audiences. 

It spawned three sequels, with a fourth coming out this January.

Do you remember where you were when you first saw the film? I wish I could go back to that night it debuted in 1996 and sit in an audience that had no idea what was going to happen. 

Check out the full retrospective. And let us know your thoughts in the comments.