After losing Jenna Ortega, 'Scream 7' faces a complete creative reboot; Neve Campbell and Patrick Dempsey are on the wish list (EXCLUSIVE)

Even Ghostface didn't see this coming.

According to people familiar with the project, the "Scream" franchise lost two stars this week, placing the seventh picture in the series in a creative bind.

Spyglass, the film's producer, dismissed Melissa Barrera in recent days over antisemitic social media statements (particularly, posts on the Israel-Hamas war), according to Variety.

 Jenna Ortega, whose star has risen significantly since joining the iconic Wes Craven horror series, was informed that she would not return owing to a schedule problem with the second season of her big Netflix hit "Wednesday." In the flicks, Barrera and Ortega portray sisters.

The reaction to Barrera's dismissal has been fierce, with the film's director, Christopher Landon, reacting to the events surrounding her departure. 

On Tuesday, he wrote and then erased a statement on X that said, "Everything sucks." Please, no more yelling. This was not a choice I made." 

Some fans thought the planned sequel was collapsing in real time. Plans for the next "Scream" were being reworked even before Barrera was sacked. According to those with information, Ortega's departure caused the creative team to make some changes,  

but there was still optimism that the actress may be persuaded to return for a cameo. That appears to be out of the question. Another source close to the franchise denied this, claiming Ortega was never considered for the upcoming film. 

The last two "Scream" installments' authors, James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, will now work on a new draft to give to filmmakers. Some set pieces and plot twists may be retained, but the film will require new protagonists. According to another source, Ortega and Barrera signed on for two "Scream" films, which they completed with installments five and six. For the seventh chapter, they would have needed new deals. 

So, who will face off against the masked assassin? The "Scream" films feature a cast of characters who are still alive or could be resurrected (it is a horror film, after all, and the delight of "Scream" is that it does not bury its dead too deeply). The original series stars, Neve Campbell and Courteney Cox, are among them. 

Campbell starred in the 2022 film "Scream," but did not return for the 2023 film "Scream VI" due to a salary disagreement. Producers are eager to see her reprise her legendary role as Sidney Prescott. Another candidate is Patrick Dempsey, who starred in the 2000 film "Scream 3." So yet, none of these parties has been engaged in active negotiations. 

"Scream 7" was supposed to be released in theaters in 2025. Despite the fact that the producers are starting from scratch, that release date appears to be doable if Landon and the writers can find another horrific narrative to tell. "Scream" movies don't require elaborate visual effects and can be made rapidly. All it takes is a brilliant concept. 

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