Kirby is officially back. Hayden Panettiere returns to the “Scream” universe for the sixth film, making it the first time that audiences have seen her character, Kirby Reed, since she was left for dead in 2011’s “Scream 4.”
However, she may have been back sooner — if the producers could have tracked her down.
“We’re like, ‘Where’s Kirby?’ We couldn’t find her. She doesn’t have an agent. She had sort of disappeared,” executive producer Kevin Williamson tells Variety. When he started filming Season 2 of “Tell Me a Story” in Tennessee in 2019, he met crew members who worked on “Nashville” with Panettiere.
“I called up my producer in Nashville and said, ‘Do you know Hayden Panettiere, by any chance? Because we can’t find her!’ He’s like, ‘Oh yeah, let me call her,'” says Williamson. “And then they called back and it was like, ‘Alright, found her!'”
Of course, Williamson, who wrote the original “Scream” film as well “Scream 2” and “Scream 4,” remains tightlipped about what Kirby’s role is in the new film: “There’s so much speculation about what her participation is in the movie and I love it. We should just let it live until the movie.”
The first four “Scream” movies were directed by Wes Craven, who died in 2015. Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, who directed the fifth film in 2022, return for the sixth. Screenwriters James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick penned the script.
The sixth entry is the first one based in New York City instead of the small town of Woodsboro — something that was a bit alarming at first to Williamson.
“I will be honest! I was like, ‘How is this going to work when we take it out of small town America?’ I was just worried that everyone was going to go, ‘Oh, Ghostface takes Manhattan! It’s going to be the parallel of Jason,'” he says.
Once he read the script, that changed.
“New York really is the backdrop, the setting for it and it’s wonderful. They really do bring New York into it in a very, very fun way, but, at the core, it’s a story of these two sisters and their friends and how they move from a small town to a city to try to move on, get along with their life and try to put the past behind them,” he says. “It just comes knocking at their door again, but this time in a very big, huge way. I find the movie much more emotional. You’re connected to the characters in a very profound way. The scares and Ghostface are brutal. They have elevated and turned it up a notch. I’ve seen it so many times now and I discover something new in it every single time.”
Williamson adds that he really loves the team behind the film, noting are “the right people” to be behind this universe: “They have Wes Craven’s DNA in them now and it’s theirs to run with and I love those guys. I’m happy they’ve kept me involved. I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”
Melissa Barrera, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mason Gooding, Jenna Ortega and Courteney Cox are all reprising their roles in the sixth movie. New cast members include Dermot Mulroney, Henry Czerny, Samara Weaving and Tony Revolori.
Neve Campbell, who played Sidney Prescott in all five movies, will not return as she was unhappy with her offer. “I did not feel that what I was being offered equated to the value that I bring to this franchise, and have brought to this franchise, for 25 years,” Campbell said in a statement in June 2022. “And as a woman in this business, I think it’s really important for us to be valued and to fight to be valued.”
“Scream 6” will debut on March 10, 2023.