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How Does Gale Weathers Afford Her ‘Scream VI’ UES Apartment?

A terrifying real estate mystery might distract from all the stabbing.

(Philippe Bossé / Paramount Pictures)

In December, the New York Post lamented that the latest "Scream" movie was a sign of the times for New York City, its chosen setting. "Under the mayoralties of Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, Manhattan became rom-com central and shone onscreen as a glittering metropolis full of possibility and youthful energy," media critic Johnny Oleksinski complained. "That's over. Now fiction is starting to, once again, mirror our grim and grimy reality."

In actuality, "Scream VI" isn't about the conservative narrative that crime in NYC is completely out of control. It isn't even really about New York City. Yes, characters hop into taxis, get freaked out on the subway, and crawl around on the floor of a bodega—quintessential New York experiences. Still, understanding the events of "Scream VI" requires less knowledge about those NYC cultural touchstones than it does an encyclopedic memory of the five previous "Scream" installments. (And, to be honest, unless you're actively attached to the "Scream" franchise as a whole, "Scream VI"—which leans heavily and deliberately on the lore from its forebears—is not going to be an enjoyable viewing experience.)

But one aspect of the movie did warrant a little extra scrutiny in light of the New York we're all currently living in: the batshit insane Upper East Side luxury apartment occupied by Gale Weathers, the flinty tabloid journalist played by Courteney Cox. Could a career reporter (a single woman, at that!) afford such a splashy pad in this real estate market? Take a peek in the trailer below:

Obviously, the movie doesn't feature an Architectural Digest-style tour of Weathers's apartment, but the glimpses we get as audience members contain a tell-tale level of opulence. The place has a window wall that opens up onto a private balcony, towering ceilings, a separate bedroom suite, a working fireplace, and trendy concrete beams with matching flooring, and decor-wise, it's basically ripped from a West Elm catalog.

A quick poke around the UES luxury market shows that units similar to the one Weathers lives in come with seven-digit price tags—the modern lofts for sale in Selene on 53rd Street, the closest visual analog I could find, go for $1.9 to $2.75 million dollars. 

So, is this kind of real estate possibly attainable for the only character to appear in all six "Scream" movies? At first, I didn't think so—but maybe that's because the vast majority of journalists I know earn their salaries working in digital media. A few prominent real-life New York journalists have made headlines for their luxe living situations. In 2016, NY1 anchor Pat Kiernan bought a $2.03 million townhouse in the Upper East Side after selling a condo in Williamsburg for just over a million dollars; New York Post gossip columnist Cindy Adams snagged tobacco heiress Doris Duke's nine-room, 4,200-square foot Park Avenue penthouse in 1997 and posed in the property for Curbed in 2020. Kiernan and Adams are outliers, of course. But could Gale's career have placed her in the same cushy position?

A little background for the uninitiated: Gale Weathers is a reporter whose career progresses as she covers the Woodsboro Murders, the in-universe term for the killing sprees that happen every time someone dons the Ghostface mask and gets stabby. Her primary job throughout the series is that of a New York City-based broadcast journalist—a job that pays a little more than $62,000 a year on average, according to Glassdoor. That's not exactly luxury apartment money, but if Kiernan is any indication, the gig can prove much more lucrative. On-camera reporting isn't Weathers's only stream of income, either. According to the "Scream" Wiki, Weathers has written "at least seven" books about the events of the franchise by the time of "Scream VI," although only one of them—aptly titled "The Woodsboro Murders"—is described as a "best-seller." 

It's hard to gauge how popular these books actually are—as far as I can remember, at no point in the "Scream" franchise does Weathers sit down with her agent and really crunch the numbers. But based on the fact that the character continues to chase a story that has led to her getting stabbed multiple times, it feels safe to say that Weathers isn't an author who's making James Patterson money. Case closed, right? 

Wrong. Because, per "Scream" canon, Weathers hit the jackpot that every journalist-turned-author of a sensationalized true crime book dreams about—that sweet, sweet, Hollywood option payout. "The Woodsboro Murders" became the basis for the "Stab" series, a meta "franchise within a franchise" that spans eight fictional movies. 

Since the "Stab" movies are a clear stand-in for the "Scream" movies, it feels reasonable to equate the real-life franchise's budget to its movie counterpart—$177 million dollars total. If art imitates life, Weathers probably received a sizable option payout, somewhere between $25,000 and $50,000. Then, when "Stab" was greenlit and evolved into an eight-film series, she would have received up to three percent of that $177 million budget: a cool $5.3 million dollars and change. At the very least, she could expect to collect off of the first "Stab" movie, and given the $14 to $15 million dollar budget of the original "Scream" movie, that's at least $280,000 in the bank—which is more money than any working reporter I know has made off of a single project. Factor in the successive book deals and three decades of steady broadcast news work, and Weathers is the rare journalist for whom UES luxury might be attainable, if not affordable. 

So, it turns out that a scrappy reporter with lavish digs isn't the most unrealistic part of the "Scream" franchise's New York City relocation. If not that, then what is it? Probably the fact that over the film's two-hour run time, none of its college-aged protagonists hit a vape—not even once.

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