The Scream franchise has been immensely successful, with estimated earnings exceeding $900m over the course of its films. Beginning with Wes Craven’s breakout comedy horror in 1996, the series has expanded to six movies, boasting an all-star cast of prominent Hollywood names. Many actors who gained fame through the iconic slasher series attribute much of their success to it. Consequently, the casting difficulties surrounding the seventh edition, such as losing its star Jenna Ortega, have left fans puzzled.

Ortega and the Scream franchise seemed like a match made in heaven. Since her breakout as a child actor, Ortega has always been interested in horror and is quickly becoming the scream queen of a new generation. Her recent roles in projects like Ti West’s slasher X or the Netflix thriller series You have proved her ability to deliver on scares, not to mention her move to become the iconic Wednesday Addams. When she joined the Scream universe in 2022, it felt like a perfect pairing.

Taking on the role of Tara Carpenter, Ortega was a key part of the next generation of Scream characters, following in the footsteps of Neve Campbell and Courtney Cox as one of the leading figures in the story. Alongside a brand new cast portraying new characters and new stories, Ortega, alongside Melissa Barrera, Jack Quaid and Mason Gooding, the fresh batch of talent was supposed to reignite interest in the franchise as it hit its fifth movie.

The introduction of this new generation was a roaring success, making over $57m in its opening weekend and showcasing once again that self-referential slashers are always more fun than a simple whodunnit. The 2023 follow-up Scream VI also performed well, proving audiences were receptive to the new cast. But it would appear that the cast is less receptive to the project, and a flurry of departures, including losing its singular biggest star, has left the next edition in turmoil.

In November 2023, it was announced that Ortega had quit the franchise despite playing a central role. The official reason for the actor’s departure was a scheduling conflict, but the true reason behind her exit could be more complex.

One argument is that Ortega unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate a pay rise. Sources say she tried to request a seven-figure salary as her other projects, like Wednesday and X, had majorly raised her recognition and, therefore, her worth and value. Reports claim that when the franchise rejected her request, they parted ways.

However, her exit could instead be an act of solidarity. Only days before Ortega’s departure was publicised, the franchise lost another lead role as Melissa Barrera was fired. In November 2023, as the Israel and Palestine war ramped up, Barrera shared social media posts publicly supporting Palestine and condemning the actions of the Israeli government.

She wrote on her social media accounts: “I have been actively looking for videos and information about the Palestinian side for the last two weeks or so, following accounts etc. Why? Because Western media only shows the other side. Why they do that, I will let you deduce for yourself. Usually, the algorithm on social media gets the gist. Well… my discover page on IG will only show me videos showing and talking about the Israeli side. Censorship is very real.”

In the wake of the conflict and with consideration of the links between Israel, the American government and Hollywood funding, the move was incredibly controversial. Spyglass, the production company behind Scream, accused Barrera’s statement of being antisemitic as it was announced that she’d been fired from the project. Their statement read: “We have zero tolerance for antisemitism or the incitement of hate in any form, including false references to genocide, ethnic cleansing, Holocaust distortion or anything that flagrantly crosses the line into hate speech.”

After the news of her firing broke, Barrera posted a follow-up statement, saying, “First and foremost, I condemn antisemitism and Islamophobia. I condemn hate and prejudice of any kind against any group of people.”

“I pray day and night for no more deaths, for no more violence, and for peaceful co-existence. I will continue to speak out for those that need it most and continue to advocate for peace and safety, for human rights and freedom. Silence is not an option for me,” she added.

Several notable figures spoke out in support of Barrera and against Hollywood’s apparent silencing of actors who spoke out in support of the Palestinian people, including Stranger Things’ Grace Van Dien and Harry Potter star Bonnie Wright. It may also be that Ortega showed her support by following Barrera out of the project.

Losing their two leading ladies in only a number of days, all eyes are on the Scream team to see how the franchise recovers.


By Damyan Ivanov

My name is Damyan Ivanov and i was born in 1998 in Varna, Bulgaria. Graduated high school in 2016 and since then i'm working on wordpress news websites.