Scary Movie debuted in 2000, earning $278 million on a $19 million budget and kickstarting a wave of parody films, few of which reviewed well or enjoyed quite the same level of success. Now, in a new retrospective oral history with Variety, many of the people involved have reflected on the film’s influences, the movie’s style of comedy, and how unpleasant the Weinsteins were to work with.
According to the report, Miramax wanted the rights to the movie because it parodied their property Scream, and they did not want anyone else to be able to do that. Co-writer Marlon Wayans calls the Weinsteins an “evil regime,” stating that “they do what they want to do how they do it–and it can be rude and quite disrespectful.”
He also recalls finding out that he was fired off Scary Movie 3 ahead of the movie’s production. “We probably could have sued or whatever, but part of us was like, ‘All you can do is allow us to create something new,'” he says. “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.”
Marlon’s brother Keenen Ivory Wayans directed the film, and Shawn Wayans was a co-writer. Marlon and Shawn also featured as actors in the film. Marlon says that other Wayans family members were on set, too. “The nephews will always tell us when they don’t think something’s funny,” Marlon says. “It’s cool for the youth to let them learn as well. They’ll learn what I grew up on with Keenen. I was on set since I was 11 years old.”
Anna Faris made her Hollywood debut in the film, and has some interesting memories of how she flew to Burbank and slept on a friend’s couch ahead of the audition after sending in a tape. “I started the audition with my mom recording me on one of those big, old VHS cameras hoisted on her shoulder,” she recalls. ‘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?'”
When the movie actually debuted, she again wanted to spare her mom from one of the film’s more graphic scenes. “I had to tell my mom to go to the bathroom before the sperm-spraying scene,” she says. Faris stayed with the franchise for some of the sequels, and admits that there were moments where she was hurt while filming. “In Scary Movie 3, there’s an airplane cart that lands on my face and we shot that the last day,” she remembers. “As that cart slammed into my face, I thought, ‘F*** these people. I’m about to break my f***ing nose.”
In the piece, Marlon Wayans, producer Bo Zenga, and actor Jon Abrahams also reflect on the parts of the movie that have aged poorly, or would not allow the movie to be made today without some changes. “I think it would be difficult to greenlight,” Wayans says. But at the same time, he stands by a lot of the movie’s humor. “I think anybody can do a joke about anything and it’s just who’s telling the joke and what’s your intention? Is your intention to humiliate, or is your intention to make people laugh? Our intention is always to make people laugh.”
Abrahams recalls a scene where he drops his pants to reveal giant throbbing blue testicles, and how the crew demanded they use a double because the audience would not want to see his butt. “I remember them being very kind in the confines of really outrageous comedy stuff,” he says. “I just can’t see how that would fly in these times.” Zenga reflects on a few elements that might or might not get a pass in a modern movie. “Anna getting knocked about might get through if it was really sold as, ‘Hey, it’s a comedy,” he says. “There’s a lot of gay humor that I don’t think would make it into a movie today. I don’t know if you could put an erect penis going through the wall and killing someone today.”
There’s plenty more insight into the film in the article. If you saw Scary Movie 20 years ago and still have fond memories of that period of blockbuster cinema, it’s a fun reflection on a movie that likely hasn’t aged well.