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Matthew Lillard Calls Out Studio Over Neve Campbell ‘Scream’ Pay Dispute

Jamie Kennedy and David Arquette also expressed disappointment.

Skeet Ulrich, Neve Campbell, Matthew Lillard, Rose McGowan, and Jamie Kennedy in 1996 film 'Scream'.

Fans of the Scream franchise were heartbroken when series star and final girl Neve Campbell announced she would not be returning for Scream 6. Despite the 2022 Scream grossing $140 million (and the franchise grossing $744 million globally), Paramount and Spyglass Media refused to pay Campbell, the face of the franchise, what she’s worth. Campbell issued a statement saying, “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. It’s been a very difficult decision to move on. To all my Scream fans, I love you. You’ve always been so incredibly supportive to me. I’m forever grateful to you and to what this franchise has given me over the past 25 years.”

Now, Campbell’s co-stars are speaking out support of her. Matthew Lillard, who played Stu Macher in the 1996 Scream, defended Campbell during a Twitter Spaces conversation with Midnite Movie Club, saying, “Did Tom Cruise take less money for [the Top Gun sequel]? Fuck no dude. So why is a woman supposed to take less? Why wouldn’t you pay her more as the series goes on?” Lillard said. “Was Scream 5 a hit or not a hit? It was a smash hit. Did they make a shit ton of money? Yes. Should Neve Campbell be paid for the work she’s done in five movies of a franchise? Yes, because she’s a female lead of one of the most successful horror franchises,” adding that the situation is “infuriating.”

And he wasn’t alone. Scream co-star Jamie Kennedy, who played film geek Randy Meeks in the first three installments, posted a video to YouTube where he described the pay dispute as “a clear example of how twisted the system is.”

Kennedy said, “Sidney Prescott is the center of Scream. Neve Campbell is the face of Scream. Ghostface chasing her throughout the whole franchise … The franchise gets rebooted. It’s more popular than ever… How can you make Scream without Sidney Prescott?… It’s her story, her POV, her pain, everything is her. She’s the heroine.” He added, “It’s crazy that the people behind the scenes are not paying the money to literally the face of the franchise, … It’s people who weren’t involved from the get-go. This is everything that’s wrong with the business.”

David Arquette, who played Dewey Riley in all five films, told, “A Scream movie without Sidney is kind of unfortunate, but I understand her decision. It’s all a business in a way, they have to balance all these elements to fit a budget and produce a film. I get it, she’s still alive! She [can] absolutely be in future ones, but I think it’s up to fans to call for that in the future. […] That is sudden, it’s a business, though. I respect her decision, for sure.”

Scream 6 will star Courtney Cox (the only original cast member returning) along with Melissa Barrera, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mason Gooding, and Jenna Ortega. Scream 4 star Hayden Panettiere will also reprise her role as Kirby Reed.

(image: Dimension Films)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.