“I hate people that spoil things for me when I’m going to see a film,” said David Arquette, who reprises his role as the not-quite-as-bumbling Sheriff Dewey in the fourth edition. “It’s kind of a creepy personality trait: wanting to be the person that ruins things.”
We’ve waited an entire year to write a headline like that! Casual readers might think that’s rich coming from us, but long-term visitors are aware that when it comes to material outside official channels, there are very clear lines we’ve never crossed, like all the leaked Scream 4 script pages, test screening breakdowns, who lives, who dies, who kills, anything that moves the plot forward in a substantial way. Our editorial policy is, we think, a reasonable dividing line that gives us leeway to satiate the daily hunger of fans while protecting those that don’t want the experience ruined. We approach the dissemination of information professionally, not recklessly, and hope that counts for something.
Okay, let’s get off our cardboard soapbox and move onto the source of the Arquette quote up top – ABC News‘ recent online article about, in part, Scream 4‘s visit to spoiler country. The report confirms “for those who look hard enough online, the film’s actual ending has already been described in detail — but so have several fake ones, too.”
[Craven] insisted that he didn’t film any alternate endings, and the film’s conclusion is what Williamson originally intended.”When I was reading the script, I didn’t see it coming at all,” said Cox, who reprises her role from the original trilogy as cutthroat journalist Gale Weathers, now wife of Sheriff Dewey. “I think they do a good job of keeping you guessing.”
We recall Craven expressing warranted grumpiness at professional stalkerazzi via his Twitter during the Scream 4 shoot, but it’s warming to know he held no ill feelings towards the civilian cam-fone snappers that kept us connected to filming, like Bananadoc.
The cast and crew also embraced technology behind the scenes. Craven and several cast members cautiously tweeted and posted photos online during production last year in Michigan, which prompted many die-hard “Scream” fans to dissect the information for clues. Craven said that dialogue helped to build buzz for a film franchise that was long thought to be dead.
“We were able to keep the interest of the audience up and get instant on-set feedback,” said Craven. “It was extraordinary. We could also do very gentle diversions and misdirection of who the killer might be and things like that. It was a lot of fun keeping people guessing. It just engages the audience more and lets them know they’re part of it.”
Movieweb also touched on spoiler matters with Craven, prompting him to go deeper:
You dealt with screenplay leaks before. And with Scream 4, we saw a young actress go on the Tonight Show and ‘supposedly’ give away the ending. How did you deal with actors coming in for auditions? You obviously don’t give them the full script. Even if they think they might have that information, is it bothersome to see someone like Charlyne Yi get such a kick out of trying to ruin what you’ve created in front of thousands of unsuspecting people?
Wes Craven: Those people are not up to speed at all. That particular instance was an actress not knowing, at all, what she was talking about. What we did was, we were too scared to put actual script pages from Scream 4 out there for the audition process. Because we knew we would be seeing hundreds of actors. Any one of them that doesn’t get a role would be likely to put those pages they had stuck into their pocket out on the Internet. So we did all of our casting using pages from Scream 1. Believe it or not. The actresses were using Billy Loomis’ lines from his scene in the bedroom. It was quite bizarre. Then we were saying, “I think they can do the scene that is actually in our movie!” Everything was circumspect. Every script was watermarked, so that the name of the person it belonged to was on every single page. We never gave scripts out to agencies, because we quickly found out that agencies are a very dangerous place for scripts to be hanging around. Anyone who had sworn on their mother’s grave that they would not show it to anyone would immediately show it to their sort-of-good friend, who would turn around and immediately make a copy of it. There is a lot of espionage type behavior on our part. On the other hand, we had three friends and family screenings when we were editing. And we also did three official test screenings. Which, we took everyone’s phone, and we made them sign non-disclosure agreements. And one of the producers would go before the audience, and they would say, “We depend on you to keep this whole thing a secret. It hurts us, and it hurts the audience who is going to see the film, if you exploit it. So please don’t.” By and large, it seems that people honored that. Occasionally, we would have an actor or actress who came in for a cameo, who’d go home and tweet about it. They would give away that they might be a victim, or something like that. But by and large, so far, the secrets of the film have remained undisclosed. That is a great thing. It gives me hope. I have to say, I was getting despondent about the audience out there, just constantly trying to sneak a peek, looking over your shoulder constantly when you are trying to work. A lot of these things are uncomfortable when it comes to the work. It takes more time, and in some ways, it takes away the freedom of actually working.
Don’t you find that the fans, especially those that grew up with, and were around, back when the first three movies came out, don’t go seeking that information before they get to see the movie? I know most fans don’t want to be spoiled before walking into the theater. At least that’s my perception.
Wes Craven: Well, that would be great if that were the truth. I certainly don’t think it was that way the last time. Beginning around Scream 2, we’d been waiting and waiting. We got about forty pages from Kevin Williamson, we read them, they were terrific, and they showed up on the internet that night. Which made them completely useless. It was one of the most disheartening things, because it revealed way too much to be usable. That began the whole process of printing scripts with names on them, and all of this other craziness that we had to go to. If the audience is at a point of maturing, they have to realize that if that they like what we are doing at all…Please! Give us a break! If that is going to happen, that would be fabulous.
Ironically, the ABC article on dispelling spoilers itself contains a specific first-act plot point that many would consider a spoiler. Do you?
Streaming cameras, smartphones, apps and other technological doo-dads play an integral role in this super-cynical chapter of the franchise. For instance, after Ghostface first strikes again in Woodsboro, Sheriff Dewey swiftly tracks the cellphone of the killer — or killers — to the book store where Sidney is making an appearance. No, it ain’t 1996 anymore.