Miramax – The Weinstein Company

Can you believe it has been 20 years since the talented Wayans family unleashed the crude spoof ‘Scary Movie’ on the world?!  The movie was loathed by critics, but audiences embraced the crass “toilet” humor, and the fact that the film spoofed recent hits like the ‘Scream’ and “I Know What You Did Last Summer’ franchises, which had been huge low-budget hits, even though in reality… they were pretty campy and silly themselves.

Keenan Ivory Wayans directed ‘Scary Movie’, which was originally entitled ‘Scream If You Know What I Did Last Summer’.  He would also return to helm the sequel.  The film starred his brothers Shawn Wayans as the er, straight male lead, Ray Wilkins (who turned out to be not-so-straight), and Marlon Wayans as the scene-stealing Shorty Meeks, who was high through the entire movie.

Starring in the lead female role was Anna Faris, in her first film role.  Faris didn’t even have an agent or manager.  As she recalled to Variety:

“I started the audition with my mom recording me on one of those big, old VHS cameras hoisted on her shoulder. And then with the second scene, I went to my neighbors and I was like, ‘My mom can’t do this audition with me because it’s way too raunchy. Can you film it for me?’ So I sent it in, and they asked me to come down. I packed a tiny bag and stayed on a friend’s couch in Burbank and bummed rides to go down for these auditions. They kept asking me to stay, so eventually, I had to go buy some new clothes, which at the time it felt like, ‘I can’t even afford a cab, I certainly can’t afford a hotel’.”

When the film opened to a remarkable $15 million in just one day, on a budget of $19 million, Faris didn’t know whether that was good or bad.

Critics thought it was bad.  (The movie, that is.)  As Marlon Wayans recalled:

“People were literally in the aisles and you could hear the laughter outside the theater. Like most of our movies, it got critically panned. It always does, but you know, comedy is subjective. And not to say the critics are right or wrong, but that’s just not their brand of humor. Their job is to critique. But our audience, 20 years later, people are still laughing. We don’t try to make a movie, we try to make a classic. And even if you don’t get it at the time, it’s something you go back to and watch it and go, ‘Man, that was funny’.”

There were ultimately four ‘Scary Movie’s, but the Wayans departed after the second, due to conflicts with the notorious Weinstein brothers, Harvey, and Bob, who ran Miramax.  The Weinsteins had snapped up the rights to ‘Scary Movie’ because it specifically lampooned their ‘Scream’ and ‘I Know What You Did…’ franchises and they didn’t want anyone else cashing in on making fun of their movies.

As Marlon stated:

“[The Weinstein’s are] not the best or the kindest people to be in business with.  They’re very much an evil regime, I guess. They do what they want to do how they do it — and it can be rude and quite disrespectful…  We read on Christmas Eve that they were going with someone else for [‘Scary Movie 3’].  We probably could have sued or whatever, but part of us was like, ‘All you can do is allow us to create something new.’ I could write a book on that whole thing, honestly. They definitely still owe us money, lots of money. What they did was really bad business.”

The Wayans went on create ‘White Chicks’, the ‘Haunted House’ series, and ‘Fifty Shades of Black’.  Faris went on to star in ‘The Hot Chick’, ‘Lost in Translation’, ‘Brokeback Mountain’, and ‘The House Bunny’.  She also had stints on TV shows ‘Friends’, ‘Entourage’, and she most recently co-starred on the sitcom ‘Mom’.

Were you a fan of ‘Scary Movie’ when it first came out?  If you want to revisit it, ‘Scary Movie’ is available to stream for free on Tubi.  It is also available to rent via Amazon Prime Video.  ‘Scary Movie 2’ is available on Netflix.