Throughout Scream 3 (2000) the actors of "Stab 3", the movie-within-the-movie, complain about rewrites and three different scripts. The complaints actually originated with the actual cast of Scream 3 (2000), because of frequent rewrites and three different endings.
David Arquette and Courteney Cox met on the set of Scream (1996), dated while shooting Scream 2 (1997), and married a month before principal photography of Scream 3 began. They cut short their honeymoon in order to film it. Cox added 'Arquette' to her name, as seen in the credits.
Neve Campbell was concurrently shooting Drowning Mona (2000) and Party of Five (1994) during the production of this film. Because her "Drowning Mona" character had long, streaked hair, Campbell had to wear a wig to play Sidney Prescott, which required two hours application time each morning.
Neve Campbell's contract allowed her to be on the set for just twenty days, which is why Sidney has less screen time than in the other films. As a result of her role being reduced, more emphasis was put on the supporting characters.
Another idea for Jamie Kennedy to reprise his character Randy Meeks was to have him survive the stabbing in Scream 2 (1997), his family having rescued him secretly. This was ultimately deemed to be too far-fetched so Randy was resurrected via a post-mortem video appearance instead.
(at around 16 mins) The green outfit worn by Parker Posey while on set is the same one worn by Courteney Cox in the first movie. All sets for "Stab 3" were replicas of the originals since the sets were destroyed after Scream (1996) wrapped.
(at around 54 mins) The rules for a continued horror-film sequel as stated in the movie are: 1. the killer must be superhuman; mere stabbing or shooting will not be enough to kill the killer; 2. anyone can die, including the main character; and 3. the past will come back to haunt someone. (at around 1h 12 mins) Later, Detective Mark Kincaid warns, "All I know about movie trilogies is in the third one all bets are off".
(at around 1h) The bathroom in which Sidney finds Angelina on the set of "Stab 3" is a replica of the one in which Sidney was attacked in Scream (1996), as evidenced by the position of its doors and its soap dispenser design.
In a 2009 interview, Matthew Lillard claimed that he had been contracted to reprise his role as the primary antagonist, having survived his apparent death in Scream (1996), orchestrating new Ghostface attacks from prison on high school students and ultimately targeting Sidney. Following the Columbine High School massacre shortly before production began, the script was scrapped and re-written without his character and this plot to avoid development of a film which associated violence and murder with a high school setting.
Matthew Lillard has stated that he was originally going to be the killer in Kevin Williamson's version of the script, but that story was scrapped after complications with the script due to the Columbine High School shootings.
Kate Hudson was cast, but replaced prior to the commencement of principal photography. Scream 3 is listed among Hudson's credits on the back cover of the VHS box of Desert Blue (1998). The role in which Hudson was cast is unknown, but speculation is that it was either Christine or Sarah.
A big twist was planned for the killings to be caused by insane fans of the Stab movies. The twist would come where Sidney visited a house where all the teenagers had been killed, only for the bodies to get up and reveal themselves as the killers.
It was only after English actress Emily Mortimer had been cast that the production discovered that she didn't have a permit to work in the States. Mortimer was flown to Canada where she was able to obtain the correct permit just as production got underway.
Roman Bridger (Scott Foley), the director of the 'movie within the movie', complains that he had to make a horror film before he was allowed to make a classic love story. Something similar happened to director Wes Craven himself: he had to agree to do Scream 3 (2000) before he was allowed to make the musical drama Music of the Heart (1999).
(at around 47 mins) In the first two Scream movies, Gale Weathers is punched in the face by Sidney Prescott. In this movie, Jennifer Jolie, who is playing Gale Weathers in Stab 3, is punched in the face by the real Gale Weathers.
Kevin Williamson was unavailable to return to writing duties, but he did write an outline for the film. Ehren Kruger all but ignored the outline, and his script was written mostly on the fly, with pages usually completed the day they were to be filmed. The characters bore so little resemblance to their appearances in the prior films that Wes Craven himself did rewrites.
Lance Henriksen's director character shares the same name as the famous 17th century English writer. The author John Milton is best known for the poem "Paradise Lost". In "Paradise Lost", Satan deceives Adam and Eve to choose temptation over God's Eden. Their decision leaves them expelled from Eden and forever corrupted. Director 'John Milton' in Scream 3 (2000) dupes Maureen Prescott into believing that she can become successful in Hollywood by performing sexual favors. In a fashion similar to Adam and Eve, Maureen loses her innocence to false promises of grandeur, receiving only bit parts in Milton's films. As a result of her corruption by Milton, Maureen embraces promiscuity as revealed in the "Scream Trilogy".
Kelly Rutherford was cast after filming had begun as the production was undergoing constant rewrites and the opening scene evolved from requiring only a female corpse to needing a live actress with whom Liev Schreiber could interact.
(at around 1h 5 mins) Sidney's attack on the Woodsboro set of "Stab 3" is similar to her first attack in Scream (1996). As Sidney looks out of the window by the front door, the killer comes out of the coat closet and stabs the door, narrowly missing Sidney, and then chases her up the stairs.
A scene in the film involved Sidney being pursued by Ghostface through filmset replicas of locations from Scream (1996) including her character's home. The scene was not present in the script itself but Craven paid to have the sets constructed, knowing he wanted to revisit the original film in some manner. After the construction of the sets, the scene was then written around the resulting areas producing the scene in the final film.
Courteney Cox remarked about her relationship with then husband David Arquette in relation to the Scream franchise "I was just flirting with David on the first one, I was sleeping with him in the second and we shared a trailer in the third".
In Scream (1996), Tatum argues that a woman could be the killer, referencing Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct (1992). The guys reply that an ice pick is not the same thing. At the end of this film, Sidney stabs the killer with an ice pick.
Marco Beltrami employed seven orchestrators to aid in scoring the extensive orchestral accompaniment featured in the film's score. He experimented with new styles of sound production by recording instruments in abnormal circumstances such as inserting objects into a piano and recording at various velocities to create a distorted, unnatural sound and modifying the results electronically.
Because of the Columbine massacre, the producers were pressured into toning down the film's violence. (At one point the studio attempted to demand for no blood to be seen in the film at all). As such the film is a bit more satirical and comedic than the first two.
The Killer took 18 shots to the body and 1 to the head. The body shots were 5 .38 Special rounds and 13 .9mm rounds, and is quick enough to dodge 6 .357 Magnum rounds from a Python. This would cause heavy arterial bleeding (if not death)
(at around 59 mins) When Gale and Jennifer enter the basement and find Bianca (Carrie Fisher) Bianca informs them, "you won't find anything on Maureen Prescott, but if you look under Rena Reynolds..." Carrie's real life mother was Debbie Reynolds.
Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith: (at around 19 mins) Jay and Silent Bob, the popular drug dealer characters from Clerks (1994) and other movies, appear as tourists visiting Sunrise Studios who spot Gale Weathers and mistake her for Connie Chung.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Back in Scream (1996), Randy says that if the police "watch Prom Night, they'd save time." In Prom Night (1980), the killer is revealed to be the main character's brother. In this third installment of Scream, the audience finds out that not only does Sidney have a brother she never knew about, but also find out Roman is the reason why the Woodsboro murders happened (thereby, creating a domino effect of murders and suffering in Sidney Prescott's life).
at around 1h 40 mins) Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) argues with Roman Bridger (Scott Foley) about him refusing to take responsibility for his murders, instead blaming others, and he refuses to listen. This is a representation of Wes Craven's frustration with people who use horror films as scapegoats for murder motives, as the series has been plagued with people who blame violence in movies for violence in real life. Craven makes direct nods to this in the first and second Scream films (Mickey says he wants to "blame the movies" and Billy says that "movies don't create psychos).
at around 14 mins) Tyson Fox says that Cotton Weary's murderer was "probaby some "Stab" fan pissed off they killed Randy in "Stab 2", which is a reference to "Scream" fanatics being upset that Randy Meeks was killed in Scream 2 (1997). Wes Craven got hate e-mail at his official web site because the character was killed. It was the fans upset that led to the idea of Randy surviving Scream 2 (1997) as a twist, later via a video-recording.
This is the only Scream movie where Sidney doesn't in fact know or meet the killer personally. If you remember from the last two, the killer in Scream (1996) was Billy (Sidney's boyfriend) and Stu (Billy's friend). In Scream 2 (1997), the killer was Mickey (Sidney's college friend) and Debbie Loomis (Billy Loomis' mother). But here, Sidney never met Roman or talked to him before he revealed himself.
at around 1h 45 mins) When Sidney jumped over the bar and stabbed the killer in the back with an icepick, Neve Campbell missed the pad that she was supposed to plunge the pick into and actually hit flesh. Scott Foley's scream is genuine.
According to the commentary by Wes Craven, Angelina Tyler (Emily Mortimer) was supposed to be the second killer, as Roman Bridger's girlfriend and ex-classmate of Sidney from Scream (1996), but the producers didn't like the idea.
Originally the ending consisted of Sidney easily defeating Roman which led into an early morning scene of police arriving and then into the final scene of Sidney in her home. The production considered that this amounted to essentially three endings, damaging the pacing of the film and there was also consideration that, being the concluding chapter of the trilogy, the audience needed to believe that Sidney could lose and die, something her easy victory did not achieve. To create the alternate ending, the fight scene between Sidney and Roman was extended and an addition involved Roman shooting Sidney, seemingly to death where previously she had simply hidden from the character