"It was a big, huge, 15-minute fight where she kept stabbing the killer, the killer kept stabbing her," screenwriter Kevin Williamson says of the first scene he wrote for the latest Scream.
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Scream 4 almost had a very different beginning.

Fans will recall that the fourth installment opened with a meta series of scenes from the horror franchise within the horror franchise, Stab. (And even that opening had an alternate version.) But screenwriter Kevin Williamson tells EW he originally crafted a chilling opening featuring heroine Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell).

In that version, Sidney was the one attacked by Ghostface — but not the Ghostface that would terrorize Woodsboro throughout the rest of the film. "She fought for her life," Williamson says of Sidney's faceoff with the unknown assailant. "It was a big, huge, 15-minute fight where she kept stabbing the killer, the killer kept stabbing her. I think she was stabbed five times, and crawling across the floor. And then she killed the killer, and the surprise was she didn't die [like the characters attacked in the openings of the three previous Scream films]. The killer died."

From there, the film would have gone to the title card and then picked up two years later with Sidney returning to her hometown as part of her self-help book tour, says the screenwriter, who serves as an executive producer on the new Scream film (in theaters Friday).

"And then one night, I remember I was just up at 3:00 in the morning, and I had this idea, and I just started writing to see where it went," Williamson says of his inspiration to pivot to the opening that eventually made it to theaters. "I did the movie within a movie [concept] because I knew Sidney was coming in with a self-help book, and I didn't know how that would land. I wanted to make sure that we kept Stab alive because that's the fun part of the deconstruction of the film, and so I just wrote that in one night."

SCREAM 4
Neve Campbell in 'Scream 4'
| Credit: Everett Collection

To hear Wes Craven tell it — as the late director did to EW shortly after the premiere of Scream 4 in 2011 — producers felt the two-year time jump "would kind of slow the pace of the story and thought it would maybe be better to go with young characters." But Williamson says Craven preferred the meta opening too.

I wrote it and sent it to Wes, and he goes, 'Oh, no, this one's better,'" says the screenwriter. "When I brought it in, everyone jumped on that and said, 'This is great.' And it was. It was much better than the scene I wrote. And, by the way, pieces from that scene ended up in The Following pilot."

Pick up a copy of Entertainment Weekly's Ultimate Guide to Screamavailable online or wherever magazines are sold.

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