Time to feel old, '90s kids: It has been 20 years (gulp) since "Scream" scared you sh**less and changed the way Hollywood made slasher movies.
Since the first film's release on December 20, 1996, there have been four movies that have grossed $604 million worldwide, as well as a spinoff series on MTV. "Scream" not only became the most lucrative slasher-film series ever, but it also revitalized the teen horror genre. Still, as inescapable and relentless as the "Scream" franchise has been, there are still a lot of secrets behind that mask. Here are 16 terrifying tidbits of trivia.
1. "Scream" was originally a screenplay by Kevin Williamson called "Scary Movie," inspired in part by the real-life killings of five college students in Gainesville, Florida in 1990. But Dimension studio chief Bob Weinstein didn't think the title reflected Williamson's blend of horror and comedy.
2. Inspired by the recent Michael Jackson hit, Weinstein renamed the picture "Scream" but kept the "Scary Movie" title for the horror-spoof franchise launched in 2000.
3. Horror master Wes Craven turned down the movie several times, but the director changed his mind when he learned an actress of Drew Barrymore's stature was involved. Barrymore was initially cast as heroine Sidney Prescott, but she then shifted to the smaller role of first victim Casey Becker due to her busy schedule.
4.Courteney Cox wasn't considered for newswoman Gale Weathers because producers assumed audiences wouldn't buy the "Friends" star in a bitchy role. The filmmakers considered Brooke Shields and Janeane Garofalo, but Cox assured them she could play against type.
5. The menacing phone voice of Ghostface in all the movies belongs to Roger L. Jackson, who also voices the villainous chimp Mojo Jojo on "Powerpuff Girls." During production of the first three films, none of the other actors even met Jackson but only heard his voice when talking to him on the phone; Craven thought that would make their fear more convincing.
6. Because of "Scream's" extreme violence and gore, Craven had to recut and submit it to the ratings board eight times in hope of avoiding an NC-17 rating. Craven even lied that he had no alternate, less bloody take of Barrymore's stabbing. Eventually, Weinstein persuaded the board that "Scream" deserved an R because the movie was satirizing violence, not glorifying it.
7. With the success of "Scream," the sequel was rushed into production, shooting in July 1997 for a release date that December. The haste led to a leak of the script, forcing Williamson to rewrite on set and change the identity of the killers.
8. "I hate horror movies," said Liev Schreiber, after he had played the menacing Cotton Weary in the first two installments. So why did he act in the series? Because he liked the idea of horror movies that were "in on the joke." Also, he said, "because I knew I wouldn't have to watch them. I would only have to be in them." Soon after, he signed on for "Scream 3."
9. Cox and David Arquette (Deputy Dewey Riley) met on the set of "Scream." By the time they shot "Scream 2," they were a couple off-screen. Just before the "Scream 3" shoot, they got married. When "Scream 4" was shooting in 2010, they were on the verge of splitting up.
10. The Columbine High School massacre in April 1999 made Hollywood much more sensitive, at least for a little while, about violence in teen entertainment. As a result, "Scream 3" was rewritten, taking it out of its initial high school setting, playing up the humor, and downplaying the violence.
11. Williamson proposed a second trilogy in 2008, but only got as far as "Scream 4." (Blame that film's less-than-expected box office for why the fifth and sixth films never materialized.) Weinstein instead decided to launch the MTV series in June 2015. Craven's death in August 2015 probably puts the kibosh on any more "Scream" movies.
12. Campbell initially didn't want to return for "Scream 4," and Williamson had to write Sidney out of early drafts of the script.
13. The "Scream 4" filmmakers initially offered Ashley Greene the Jill Roberts role that ultimately went to future "Scream Queens" star Emma Roberts.
14.Lauren Graham was cast as Roberts' mom, but left the shoot after just a few days. Mary McDonnell replaced her.
15. The Ghostface mask was designed by retailer Fun World in 1991, inspired (aptly) by Edvard Munch's famous painting "The Scream." It was also inspired by a figure from Gerald Scarfe's artwork from Pink Floyd's "The Wall" album and some ghost figures in an old Betty Boop cartoon.
16. The "Scream" franchise has reportedly made the mask, along with the ragged-edged cloak used in the films, into the best-selling Halloween costume in America.