Cotton Weary, now living in Los Angeles and the host of a nationally syndicated television show, 100% Cotton, is called by Ghostface, who demands the whereabouts of Sidney Prescott, who has gone into hiding ever since the events of the second film. He refuses and when he comes to his home, both Cotton and his girlfriend Christine are murdered.
Detective Mark Kincaid contacts Gale Weathers to discuss the murders, prompting her to travel to Hollywood, where she finds Dewey Riley working as an adviser on the set of Stab 3, the third film in the film within a film series based on the Ghostface murders. Using a voice changer as a ruse, Ghostface kills Stab 3 actress Sarah Darling. Sidney is now living in seclusion as a crisis counselor for an abused womens hotline, as she is terrified that another killer may strike. Having discovered her number, the killer begins taunting Sidney by phone, forcing her out of hiding and drawing her to Hollywood. As the remaining Stab 3 cast, along with Dewey and Gale, gather at the home of Jennifer Jolie, Ghostface kills her bodyguard Steven Stone and uses a gas leak to cause an explosion, killing fellow actor Tom Prinze.
Martha Meeks, the little sister of Randy (who was killed by Ghostface in Scream 2), visits Sidney and the others to drop off a videotape that Randy made, posthumously warning them that the rules of the third and final film of a horror movie franchise do not apply to anyone, as that any of them, including Sidney, could die. Dewey, Gale, Jennifer, and the remaining Stab 3 actors, Angelina Tyler and Tyson Fox, attend a birthday party for Stab 3s director Roman Bridger where Ghostface strikes. Gale discovers Romans seemingly dead body with a knife in his chest in a movie-set coffin in the basement, while Angelina, Tyson, and Jennifer are killed by Ghostface at various places throughout the house. Ghostface then orders Sidney to the mansion to save Gale and Deweys lives, as they are bound and gagged. When she arrives, Ghostface forces Sidney to remove her firearm but she reveals a second hidden one, which she uses to shoot the killer. As Sidney is untying Gale and Dewey, Ghostfaces body disappears. Detective Kincaid shows up, but is knocked out by Ghostface.
Sidney flees and hides in a secret screening room where she encounters Ghostface. He reveals himself as Roman, having faked his death and survived being shot due to a bulletproof vest. Roman admits to being Sidneys half-brother, born to their mother Maureen Prescott when she was an actress in Hollywood, using the name Rina Reynolds. Roman, though, was given up for adoption. As an adult, Roman had tried to reunite with her, to no avail. Bitter over the rejection, he would film all the men she philandered with. He showed Billy Loomis the footage of his father with Maureen, which motivated him to kill her (sparking the events of Scream and Scream 2). However, when he discovered how much fame Sidney got because of those events, Roman snapped and lured Sidney out of hiding. While explaining this, he murders film producer John Milton whom he held hostage . Sidney and Roman fight, and he ends up shooting her. While preparing for Gale and Dewey to arrive, Roman is now surprised to see that Sidneys body has disappeared. As he begins to place a call to Sidneys cellphone to locate her, he instead receives an incoming call from her. This distracts him long enough for Sidney to stab Roman in the back, apparently killing him, but not before showing him that she too was wearing a bulletproof vest. Dewey and Gale arrive, and Roman suddenly jumps up and attacks again, only for Dewey to finally kill him with a shot to the head.
One morning, Dewey proposes to Gale, which she accepts as Sidney arrives to her home. Sidney is invited to join Dewey, Gale, and Detective Kincaid to watch a movie. As she goes to join the others, a door behind her opens, but she walks away leaving it as is, finally confident that the murders have ended and that she is now safe.
Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette and Liev Schreiber all returned to their roles as Sidney Prescott and news reporter Gale Weathers, Dewey Riley and Cotton Weary, now host of a TV show, respectively for Scream 3, their characters being the only central roles to survive the events of the previous two films. In an interview, Craven stated that convincing the central cast to return to film a new Scream film was not difficult but as with Scream 2, their burgeoning fame and busy schedules made arranging their availability with the films production period difficult. The consequence of Campbells commitments in particular meant she was only available to film her role for 20 days forcing the script to reduce the series main character to a smaller role while focusing on the other characters played by Cox and Arquette. Lynn McCree finally makes a physical appearance in the series as Maureen Prescott (though only through a hallucination of Sidney), with Sidney now being a crisis counselor. Roger L. Jackson again returned to voice the antagonist Ghostface and Jamie Kennedy reprised his role as Randy Meeks in spite of the characters death in Scream 2. Negative feedback following the death of Randy had the production consider methods to have had his character survive to appear in Scream 3 including having the characters family hide him away for safety while recuperating from his injuries, but it was deemed too unbelievable and the idea was replaced with the character appearing in a minor role via a pre-recorded video message.
Many of the supporting cast played fictitious actors taking part in the film within a film "Stab 3" including Emily Mortimer as Angelina Tyler, Parker Posey as Jennifer Jolie, Matt Keeslar as Tom Prinze, Jenny McCarthy as Sarah Darling and Deon Richmond as Tyson Fox with Scott Foley as the films director, Roman Bridger. Additional cast included Lance Henriksen as film producer John Milton Patrick Dempsey as detective Mark Kincaid, Patrick Warburton as bodyguard Steven Stone and Kelly Rutherford as the girlfriend of Cotton Weary, Christine Hammilton. Rutherford was cast after filming had begun as the production was undergoing constant rewrites and the opening scene evolved from requiring only a female corpse to needing a live actress with whom Schreiber could interact. Shortly after being cast, Mortimer was found to lack the necessary work permit to allow her involvement in the film, requiring her to be flown to Vancouver to obtain one. Scream 3 also featured the first live on-screen appearance of Sidney Prescotts mother Maureen Prescott, played by Lynn McRee, the actress previously having represented the character in photographs during the previous films.
Lawrence Hecht and C.W. Morgan appeared in minor roles reprising their characters of Sidneys father Neil Prescott and Hank Loomis respectively. Nancy ODell appeared as an unnamed reporter, having previously appeared in Scream 2 and would go on to appear in Scream 4 in the same role. Scream 3 featured several cameo appearances including the fictional characters of Jay and Silent Bob from the 1994 film Clerks played by Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith, and director Roger Corman as an on-set studio executive. Carrie Fisher made a cameo in the film as former actress, Bianca Burnette, at the suggestion of Bob Weinstein, with Fisher helping to write her character.
In an 2009 interview, Matthew Lillard, who played Stu Macher in Scream, claimed that he had been contracted to reprise his role in Scream 3 as the primary antagonist, having survived his apparent death, orchestrating new Ghostface attacks from prison on high school students and ultimately targeting Sidney. Following the Columbine High School massacre shortly before production began, the script was scrapped and re-written without his character and this plot to avoid development of a film which associated violence and murder with a high school setting.
Scream 3 was released just over two years after Scream 2, greenlit with a budget of $40 million, a significant increase over the budgets of Scream at $15 million and Scream 2 at $24 million. Williamsons involvement had been contracted while selling his Scream script, to which he had attached two five-page outlines for potential sequels, what would become Scream 2 and Scream 3, hoping to entice buyers with the prospect of purchasing a franchise rather than a single script. Craven too had been contracted for two potential sequels following a successful test screening of Scream and he returned to direct the third installment. Shortly before production began on the film, two teenagers staged a deadly attack on their school, killing several students in what became known as the Columbine High School massacre. In the aftermath of the incident, many parties began looking for reasoning behind their actions and there came an increased scrutiny on the role of the media in society, including video games and film, and the influence it could have on an audience. With production of Scream 3 not yet underway, there were considerations about whether the film should be made at that time, aware of the potential for negative attention but the studio decided to press forward, albeit with changes. The studio remained however much more apprehensive concerning violence and gore in Scream 3 than with previous installments, pressing for a greater emphasis on the series satiric humor while scaling back on the violence. At one point in the production, the studio went as far as demanding that the film feature no blood or on-screen violence at all, a drastic departure for the series, but Craven directly intervened stating that the film should either have the violence present in earlier Scream films or should be called something other than Scream.
Bob and Harvey Weinstein approached Williamson in early 1999 to pursue a full script for a third installment to the Scream franchise, Scream 3. However, following his successes with the Scream series and other projects such as I Know What You Did Last Summer, Williamson had become involved in multiple projects including the development of the short-lived TV series Wasteland and directing his self-penned film Teaching Mrs. Tingle (1999) which Williamson had written prior to Scream and which had languished in development hell since. Unable to develop a full script for the production, Williamson instead wrote a 20-30 page draft outline for the film that involved the return of Ghostface to the fictional town of Woodsboro where the "Stab" series, a fictional series of films within a film that exist within the Scream universe and are based on the events of Scream, would be filmed. The Weinsteins hired Arlington Road scribe Ehren Kruger to replace Williamson and helm writing duties, developing a script based on Williamsons notes.
The environment for Scream 3???s development had become more complicated than with previous films. There was an increased scrutiny on the effects of violence in media and the effect it could have on the public in the aftermath of the Columbine High School massacre which occurred shortly before production would begin on the film. In addition, since the release of the original Scream films, various acts of violence had taken place which had gained notoriety and media attention when they were linked to, or blamed on, the films. Eager to avoid further criticism or connection to such incidents, Williamsons notes were largely discarded as the studio insisted that the script should focus on the comedic elements of the series while significantly reducing the violence. The setting of the film was changed from Woodsboro to Hollywood upon which Kruger commented that he believed the characters should be moving to "bigger" places from high school, to college to the city of Hollywood. Behind the scenes however, the move away from Woodsboro was mandated as it was considered that a film containing violent acts of murder in and around the small town of Woodsboro and the associated school would attract significant negative criticism and attention that could be detrimental to the production and studio, the film set for release less than a year following the Columbine incident.
Kruger agreed to develop the script for Scream 3 primarily to work with Craven and the executives under Miramax, arguing that writing a sequel to the work of someone else was not the same as writing "an original". To help in developing the script, Kruger read copies of Williamsons scripts for Scream and Scream 2 as well as watching the earlier films to better understand the characters and tone. In an interview, Kruger admitted that his lack of involvement with the development of the principal cast of Scream hampered his ability to portray them true to their previous characterization. Early scripts had the character of Sidney Prescott much like "Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2" - a more action-orientated heroine - at which point Craven would intervene and correct the script to bring the characters closer to their previous appearances. Kruger would admit that despite not receiving any writing credit, Craven had a significant hand in developing the script for Scream 3. Like Scream 2, the script for Scream 3 was subject to repeated alterations with pages sometimes completed only on the day on which they were to be filmed. Multiple scenes were rewritten to include previously absent characters or change elements of the plot when it was decided that they were not connecting with other scenes. In a 2013 interview, Williamson further detailed his original script which would have seen the killers be a "Stab" fan club of Woodsboro kids. All the members of the club would have been involved in the killings and the final twist "of the movie was when Sidney walked into the house after Ghostface had killed everyone ... and they all rose up. None of them were actually dead and theyd planned the whole thing." Williamson later adapted this story for his 2013 TV series The Following.
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. Filming took place largely in the areas of San Fernando Valley, Macarthur Park, Beverly Hills, Hollywood Hills and Silverlake with the isolated home of Campbells character situated in Topanga Canyon. The opening scene involves Cotton Weary (Schreiber) driving before arriving home where he is murdered by the Ghostface character. For the driving scene, the production filmed on Hollywood Boulevard but the following scene in Cottons apartment was changed frequently, requiring alterations to the driving scene to maintain continuity, modifying who speaks to Cotton by phone and what the conversation entailed. Unable to return to Hollywood Boulevard, the scene was reshot on a street outside of the production studio in San Fernando Valley and intermixed with footage taken on the Boulevard. The opening attack scene was filmed partially at the exterior and interior of Harper House in West Hollywood but changes were made to the scene including introducing a live girlfriend for Cotton instead of her being dead when Cotton arrives. It was later decided that the confrontation between Cotton and Ghostface, featuring Cotton physically dominating the character and attempting to escape by skylight, was unrealistic and made Ghostface appear weak and this scene was reshot. Again however, they were unable to return to Harper House to conduct filming and resorted to constructing a replica of the apartment interior to produce the necessary footage which had the Ghostface character appear more dominant and completely excised the attempted skylight escape. Coxs character is introduced during a seminar which takes place within a classroom at UCLA, a location previously used in Scream 2 to represent the fictional Windsor College. The film studio where the fictional "Stab 3" is filmed is represented by the CBS Studio Center in Studio City, San Fernando Valley while scenes at the home of Poseys character were filmed in the Hollywood Hills at Runyon Ranch in Runyon Canyon Park. The finale, featuring the final attacks of the film and confrontation between the antagonist and Sidney, was filmed at the Canfield-Moreno Estate, a mansion in Silverlake.
A scene in the film involved Campbell being pursued by Ghostface through filmset replicas of locations from the original Scream including her characters 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. The script underwent changes repeatedly as filming was conducted with pages regularly only available on the day of filming. Additionally, if the production decided to change a scene this sometimes meant refilming other scenes to maintain continuity requiring further rewrites. The production team purposely filmed large amounts of footage containing different variations of each scene based on the different script developments in order that, should the script further change, they would ideally have a scene they could use without having to film new ones at a later date, requiring them to obtain access to locations or build sets. The opening scene in particular had several alternate versions filmed, initially altering the girlfriend of Schreibers character from dead to alive, resulting in the prior driving scene being changed to alter dialog and tone to make sense with the changes. Additionally, a three-minute scene featuring the character of Randy Meeks had over two-hours of footage filmed. The script for the film was so in flux that the epilogue scene was filmed with three variants of Patrick Dempseys character - one with him absent, one where his arm is bandaged and one with him in a normal condition - as the production were not certain what his ultimate fate would be following the finalization of the film.
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. Originally the ending consisted of Sidney (Campbell) easily defeating Roman (Scott Foley) which led into an early morning scene of police arriving and then into the final scene of Sidney in her home. The production considered that this amounted to essentially three endings, damaging the pacing of the film and there was also consideration that, being the concluding chapter of the trilogy, the audience needed to believe that Sidney could lose and die, something her easy victory did not achieve. To create the alternate ending, the fight scene between Sidney and Roman was extended and an addition involved Roman shooting Sidney, seemingly to death where previously she had simply hidden from the character. A major addition was the presence of the character Mark Kincaid (Patrick Dempsey), who had previously been completely absent from the finale, after the production realized that his character simply disappeared from the plot and his story arc went nowhere.
As with production of Scream, 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.
Marco Beltrami returned to score Scream 3, having scored the previous two films in the series. For the film, Beltrami employed seven orchestrators to aid in scoring the extensive orchestral accompaniment featured in the films score. He experimented with new styles of sound production by recording instruments in abnormal circumstances such as inserting objects into a piano and recording at various velocities to create a distorted, unnatural sound and modifying the results electronically. Beltrami continued to incorporate a heavy vocal orchestra throughout the score as he had with the previous films. There was consideration that Beltrami was forced to hire multiple orchestrators to complete the score to meet the films deadline. Beltrami took inspiration from other composers for the score, again incorporating excerpts of the score to Broken Arrow by Hans Zimmer in the track "Sid Wears a Dress".
Scream 3 held its premiere on February 3, 2000 at the AMC Avco theater in Westwood, Los Angeles, California with a public release following on February 4, 2000.
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. This was surpassed the same year in July by Mission: Impossible II with 3,669.
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 mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 36%, based on 112 reviews, with the sites critical consensus reading, "Scream 3 has become what it originally spoofed. Despite some surprising twists, the movie seems to have lost its freshness and originality by falling back on the old horror formulas and cliches." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 56 out of 100, based on 32 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Time Out London was particularly critical of the film, calling the films metafiction commentary a poor imitation of Cravens own horror film Wes Cravens New Nightmare (1994). Of the characters, Roger Ebert said "[the characters] are so thin, theyre transparent" but praised Campbells appearance saying, "The camera loves her. She could become a really big star and then giggle at clips from this film at her AFI tribute."
In a positive review, The Los Angeles Times called the film, "Genuinely scary and also highly amusing", and the BBC stated that "as the conclusion to the trilogy it works more effectively than anyone had a right to expect". Variety also praised the film as the end of the Scream trilogy, saying "Aficionados will be the best able to appreciate how wittily Craven has brought down the curtain on his much-imitated, genre-reviving series" while Empire called it "satisfying" though believed the premise of the series had worn thin. |}
Scream 3 was released in US territories on VHS on October 24, 2000 and on DVD on July 4, 2000 by Walt Disney Home Entertainment. The DVD version was only released as a Collectors Edition featuring deleted scenes, outtakes, audio commentary, music videos of songs featured in the film, trailers for the film and biographies on the cast and crew involved in the films production. Following the release of Scream 3 as, originally the concluding chapter of the series, Collectors Editions of Scream, Scream 2 and Scream 3 were collected in "The Ultimate Scream Collection" DVD boxset by Dimension Films on September 26, 2000 which included "Behind the Scream", a short documentary about the production of the films, outtakes, deleted scenes, screentests of actors involved in the films and other miscellaneous materials related to the series. In 2001, the DVD release of Scream 3 was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Home Video Release but lost to Princess Mononoke (1997).
Scream 3 remained unreleased in foreign territories including Europe and Japan until 2001 where it was simultaneously released with Scream and Scream 2 on February 26 by Buena Vista Home Entertainment. Each film contained the additional content found in the Collectors Edition version of their US release including deleted scenes, outtakes, theatrical trailers, music videos and commentary from each respective films crew. Additionally, the three films were collected together in a single pack, again released on February 26 and released as "Scream Trilogy".
Scream 3 was released on the Blu-ray Disc format on March 29, 2011, alongside Scream and Scream 2, two weeks prior to the release of Scream 4, by Lionsgate Home Entertainment, hosting the films in 1080p high definition and included audio commentary, theatrical trailers and behind-the-scenes footage for each respective film.
Scream 3: The Album is the original soundtrack album to the film Scream 3. Released on January 25, 2000 by Wind-up Records, the album features 18 songs consisting largely of the metal genre by artists such as System of a Down and Powerman 5000, some of which are represented in the film. The Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds song "Red Right Hand" is played in the film, having been heard in all three films. Nick Cave wrote a "sequel" to the song just for the film, which can be heard in the closing credits. This song was later included in The Seeds B-Sides & Rarities album. Additionally, Marco Beltrami uses a few notes from the song in his score.
Also, the Creed song "What If" features a music video which resembles the happenings of the movie, and includes a cameo by David Arquette. The video can be seen in the DVD release of the movie. Creed also recorded the song "Is This the End" just for the film and can also be heard in the closing credits. On February 23, 2000 Scream 3: The Album was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, signifying that the album achieved sales in excess of 500,000 units. The album fared better than its predecessors, spending fourteen weeks on the Billboard 200 and reaching a top rank of #32. and scoring a 2.5 out of 5 from music guide AllMusic. Reviewer Steve Huey claims that the "high pedigree" of the albums contributors had produced a "pretty listenable album".
The album was released on iTunes on February 1, 2012.Track listing