‘Scream’ Star Melissa Barrera Is ‘Grateful’ ‘In the Heights’ Didn’t Succeed at Box Office

17 March 2023

The success of “Scream VI” proved that the semi-reboot approach that the franchise employed with last year’s “Scream” has been embraced by fans — and that the series’ young new cast is here to stay.

The film has thrust rising star Melissa Barrera, who plays Sam Carpenter, into the spotlight. But it’s hardly her first major film role. The actress landed a coveted opportunity in 2021 when she was cast as Vanessa in John M. Chu’s film adaptation of “In the Heights.” The film was generally praised as a faithful adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical, but only grossed $45 million worldwide against a $55 million budget. The film’s June 2021 release — when the world was technically starting to reopen after the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines but most consumers had yet to resume their regular lives — probably set the film up for failure. But Barrera isn’t losing sleep about the experience.

In a new interview with PEOPLE, Barrera explained that the film’s performance allowed her to manage expectations about her career and explore other roles without the pressure of being a box office juggernaut.

“Imagine if [‘In the Heights’] had been a success and everything had been incredible and it made a billion dollars at the box office — and then my next movie flopped,” she said. “That would have been, I think, harder… I’m so grateful that my life has been exactly as it has been.”

Her satisfaction with her career trajectory extends to the “Scream” franchise. Barrera went on to praise the direction that directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett have taken her character in and express her appreciation for the opportunity to play a three dimensional horror character.

“In the fifth [movie], they were thrown into the ring, and it’s chaos,” she said. “I’m very happy that we get to know Sam a little bit more in the sixth movie. I was like, ‘She’s such an interesting character because she has so many demons that can be—if the writers and directors want—explored and lead to a very interesting challenge for me. In the sixth one, [they] take her in that direction. I feel very happy about that.”

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