It was during many production meetings that the film began to take shape in some interesting ways. First was that many people viewed the screenplay as a comedy because there is so much humor in it, but Craven really wanted to ground the film in 100% reality. He didn't want to use conventional horror movie gimmicks and have a killer that was in any way more than human. Craven found some resistance to this notion (one I will touch on later when I got into a more spoilery territory), but he was adamant that the film play to the reality of the script in order to send a somewhat provocative message that had haunted many films.
His films had been often scrutinized as displaying gore and the taking of human life as being fun and only a depraved mind would see that as art. Craven made sure that this was refuted in Wes Craven's New Nightmare, but here was a chance to do so in a much more direct way. His stance was always that violent movies don't produce violent people; they don't create fear, they release it. The fears are already out there because these events happen but seeing it happen in the safe environment of film allows for the cathartic experience of releasing that fear, acknowledging it and confronting it in a healthy way. There is even a character in the film that say "Don't you blame the movies! Movies don't create psychoes, movies make psychos more creative." This comes after the killer has detailed their motive. The movies are facing the blame but they aren't to blame. The killer is the one who chose to take life. That is where responsibility lay. Inf fact, most of the characters in the film love horror films every bit as much as the killer and they are not committing the crimes. The arc of responsibility is dissected further in the sequels but this is where he first makes a statement. It always comes back to his quote of the ugly person smashing the mirror; "it's not the mirror that is ugly, but what is reflected." This story alone was inspired by a real life murderer that had no evidenced ties to being a fan of cinema violence and yet violent films are often the scapegoat for atrocious actions, particularly for young individuals. Craven was excited to explore this.
It was also during production meetings that Barrymore became enthralled with not playing Sidney but rather the first victim. She liked the idea of shocking the audience and Craven jumped onboard that notion. The press releases on the film had already slated her as the star so it would come as a major shock to audiences if she were taken out so swiftly, not unlike Psycho. Mirimax agreed and really upsold her involvement in the film and almost all of the marketing material was sold on her being the star.