Scream is a series of American slasher films created by Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven. The films star Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette. The series has grossed over $600 million in worldwide box office receipts and consists, to date, of four motion pictures. The first series entry, Scream, was released on December 20, 1996 and is currently the highest grossing slasher film in the United States. The second entry Scream 2 was released on December 12, 1997 followed by a third installment, Scream 3, released February 4, 2000. Eleven years after the previous film, Scream 4 was released on April 15, 2011. The films follow the character of Sidney Prescott (Campbell) who becomes the target of a succession of murderers who adopt the guise of Ghostface to stalk and torment their victims. Sidney receives support in the films from town deputy Dewey Riley (Arquette), reporter Gale Weathers (Cox), and film-geek Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy).
Williamson's original script was bought by Miramax and developed under the Dimension Films label by Bob and Harvey Weinstein, who recruited Craven to direct, who in turn recruited composer Marco Beltrami to score the film. This team went on to be involved in each film in the series though Williamson was forced to take a smaller role for Scream 3, writing only a brief plot outline due to his commitments to other projects, with Ehren Kruger replacing him as screenwriter. The series' violence resulted in conflicts with the Motion Picture Association of America and news media concerning censorship resulting in a reduction of violence and gore in Scream 3 when the Columbine incident brought increased focus on the media's influence on society. Scream became notable for its use of established and recognizable actors which was uncommon for horror films at the time, yet has since become common in part due to Scream's success.
The series has received significant critical acclaim, Scream being credited with revitalizing the horror genre in the late 90s by combining a traditional slasher film with humor, awareness of horror film cliché and a clever plot. Scream was one of the highest grossing films of 1996 and became, and remains, the highest grossing slasher film in the world. Its success was matched by Scream 2 which not only broke box-office records of the time but which some critics argued was actually superior to the original. Scream 3 fared worse than its predecessors, both critically and financially, with critics commenting that it had become the type of horror film it originally parodied in Scream. It did however receive some positive response with claims that it was the perfect end to the trilogy. The film series has been the recipient of several awards including a Saturn Award for Best Actress and MTV Movie Award for Best Female Performance for Campbell and Best Horror Film for Scream.