Whassup?! Check Out These 20 Surprising Secrets About Scary Movie

The horror-parody penned by the Wayans brothers became the surprise hit of 2000, spawning four sequels and breaking box office records

By Tierney Bricker Jul 07, 2020 7:00 PMTags
Watch: Anna Faris Didn't Think She Was Funny Enough for "Scary Movie"

What's your favorite scary horror-parody movie?

Chances are it's Scary Movie, the comedy written by and starring Shawn Wayans and Marlon Wayans and directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans that became the surprise hit no one saw coming when it hit theaters 20 years ago.

Made for just $19 million, Scary Movie, which parodied hit slasher films like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, went on to make $278 million at the box office, breaking the record at the time for highest gross for a movie helmed by a Black director, helping to launch the careers of stars Anna Faris and Regina Hall, and spawning four sequels. 

In honor of the hit film's 20th anniversary, we're revealing some secrets you might not know, like which actors turned down major roles in the movie, the celebrity the studio didn't want in the film and the unusual original title of the script. Plus, one of the movie's breakout stars reveals she was told not to do the movie before signing on. 

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Check out these 20 behind-the-scenes facts about Scary Movie...

1. Inspired by the trend of '90s slasher films starring young and attractive casts, Shawn Wayans came up with the initial concept and the script was picked up by Dimensions, a studio that produced a majority of the films being parodied, before it was even finished. 

2. The hardest role to cast was Cindy Campbell, which went to a then-unknown actress named Anna Faris.

"The biggest surprise was Anna," director Keenen Ivory Wayans told Entertainment Weekly. "And it wasn't really a surprise, it was a gift. I had seen everybody, and I kept saying no to the point that the casting people were getting pissed. But I was looking for someone specific."

3. Prior to landing Scary Movie, Faris didn't have head shots or an agent. "I had no idea what to say when he called 'Action,'" she told EW. "I turned to [co-star] Jonny [Abrahams] and was like, 'So wait, what are we supposed to do?' And he was like, 'Say your line.'"

4. Alicia Silverstone reportedly turned down the role of Cindy. 

5. While Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer are credited as two of the six writers on the film though they had no part in the final script due to a WGA decision after the pair had sold a spec script to Dimensions called Scream If You Know What I Did Last Halloween in 1998.

6. Friedberg and Seltzer would go on to pen Date Movie, Epic Movie, Disaster Movie and other various spoof films, using "two of the six writers of Scary Movie" in promotional pieces for their films.

7. While Carmen Electra's parody of Drew Barrymore's iconic early death in Scream was one of the film's most-talked about moments, the studio "didn't want to cast" the Baywatch star. 

"They didn't think she could do it. They thought she was cheesy, because – and this is no disrespect to Carmen – she was one of the first celebrities to be known more for who they were than for what they'd done, you know?" Keenen Ivory Wayans told EW. "But what they didn't like about Carmen was what made her perfect, and that's what I kept trying to explain."

8. Electra had actually auditioned for two other roles, including Buffy (which went to American Pie's Shannen Elizabeth) before later getting the call to play Drew Decker. 

9. "I remember they cut my hair shorter to look more like Drew Barrymore's character," Electra recalled in an interview with EW, adding they filmed the opening scene in one night. 

10. Jenny McCarthy was reportedly offered the role of Drew Decker, but turned it down. She went on to star in Scary Movie 3

11. The original working title for the script was Scary Movie was Last Summer I Screamed Because Friday the 13th Fell on Halloween. It was shortened to Scary Movie, which was the working title for Kevin Williamson's Scream

12. The director encouraged all of the actors to improvise, with Shannen Elizabeth telling EW, "Keenen said, 'I want to shoot what's on the page, and then I'm going to let you guys do anything you want. At the end of the day, I'm going to use whatever's the funniest and the best, and I, as the director, will get credit for it.'"

13. James Van Der Beek makes a brief cameo in the film as his Dawson' Creek character. "Hey, wrong set," he says while popping up in Cindy's window as "I Don't Wanna Wait" plays. 

14.  The original script allegedly featured a cameo by Jamie Lee Curtis reprising her iconic Halloween role. 

15. The producers initially wanted Aaliyah to play Brenda, the role that ultimately went to Regina Hall. But she turned it down out of respect for Brandy

"They wanted me to play Brandy, and kind of do a parody of her," the late singer explained in an MTV2 interview. "I actually liked the script, I thought it was really funny, but I didn't want anybody to take it like I was disrespecting her in anyway. So, I actually didn't do it and it turned out to be a really funny movie."

16. Regina Hall auditioned four times for the role of Brenda, and told Fast Company, "A producer told me not to do Scary Movie. I mean I get it now, but I was like, 'No! Of course I'm doing Scary Movie!'...That would've been bad if I said no!"

17. Jared Leto reportedly turned down the role of Bobby in order to star in Requiem for a Dream

18. Director Keenen Ivory Wayans makes a cameo in the movie in the fake Amistad 2 trailer. 

19. "No Shame. No Mercy. No sequel." Of course, given the movie's success, four sequels followed. The tagline for Scary Movie 2? "We lied."  

20. While they penned the sequel, the Wayans brothers left the Scary Movie franchise.

"What my brothers and I did was take a $19 million movie and we made it into a half-a-billion-dollar franchise," Marlon Wayans explained to the Chicago Tribune. "We got rushed to do a sequel. It still performed, but not the way we wanted it to. It wasn't as good as the first one. It was all right...And then we read in the trades one day they were doing Scary Movie 3 with somebody else. We were like, 'Wow, that's interesting.' They took a franchise we did and that bombed."