There are many, many fans of "Scream," and for them, the news that Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson are officially reuniting as the director and writer of "Scream 4" must be exciting. Craven confirmed it last night on his Twitter feed, and then The Weinstein Company followed up with an official press release today.
In the current pop culture landscape, though, haven't fans been burnt enough by late-in-the-game sequels to grow wary? People wait 20 years for a new Indiana Jones film, then detest the final product. It increasingly seems that the only good thing about returning to the well is the guarantee of an opening weekend, but that there are few if any creative reasons to extend these franchises beyond what already exists.
Whenever I make this point, people love to bring up James Bond, but the difference there is that the Bond films have never traded on any serious sense of continuity. Bond is a constant. He's a spy. He chases bad guys. That's it. Something like "Scream 4" is going to have to contend not only with the original film, but with two weak sequels that considerably complicated the story and the characters, and so no matter what, a certain degree of familiarity is going to be required on the part of the audience if they're going to connect to this new film, and I'm not sure there are that many people out there who are that invested in the events of "Scream 3." Certainly not enough to be able to count on this movie being a major cultural event when it's released, and that's exactly what Dimension needs at this point.
I'm convinced that the people who spend years and years asking for a "Ghostbusters 3" are the same people who will spend years and years complaining about it afterwards. The only people who still seem invested in the "Star Wars" prequels being good or bad are the people who begged for them for two decades. It's a can't-win situation for filmmakers.
The only real hope for "Scream 4" is that Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven might understand that problem. The first film, after all, was both a genuine slasher movie and a not-so-subtle send-up of the conventions of the genre. The two sequels lost that focus, I think, but there's certainly room for this creative team to use this new film as a dig on the impulse that studios have to keep going back to the well, no matter how long it's been since it ran dry.
All we know for sure is that April 15, 2011 is the date they've set for release, and that original series stars Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette are all set to return. That means they will have to shoot this summer, and that means the script will have to be done very soon. As details on story and approach become available, we'll be sure to update you here at HitFix.
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