The Hanna-Barbera cinematic universe is beginning to take shape. Along with building off the success of The LEGO Movie and potentially rebooting the Looney Tunes with Speedy Gonzales, Warner Bros. is branching out into more animated features by creating a cinematic universe based on the beloved Hanna-Barbera world of iconic animated characters. That will kick off with S.C.O.O.B., the upcoming Scooby-Doo animated reboot.
Having remained active since its debut in 1969, the Scooby-Doo franchise has been going strong as ever of late, with its run of direct-to-video animated films. S.C.O.O.B. will thus be latest installment in the adventures of the talking Great Dane Scooby-Doo and his human mystery-solving pals, in addition to serving as the launching pad for the potential Hanna-Barbera cinematic universe. The movie has yet to reveal its cast or specific plot details, but has added a co-director – and the name may surprise you, based on his (lack of) experience with animated movies.
Dax Shepard is in negotiations to co-direct S.C.O.O.B. for Warner Bros. Pictures, along with animated movie veteran Tony Cervone, according to a report by Variety. This marks the first animated film in the career of Shepard, a veteran actor who has recently branched out into directing. So far, Shepard has helmed the live-action movie Brother Justice, Hit and Run, and the upcoming CHiPS reboot (which he also co-wrote and co-stars in). Shepard will also co-write S.C.O.O.B. with Matt Lieberman, who is also penning the developing Short Circuit reboot.
S.C.O.O.B. will also be Shepard’s first foray into the Hanna-Barbera universe. Cervone, meanwhile, has worked on animated features and TV shows for nearly two decades. He is best known as the animation director for the 1996 hit Space Jam, but has previously helmed direct-to-video features Scooby-Doo: Abracadabra Doo and Scooby-Doo and KISS: Rock and Roll Mystery, as well as animated features based on The Flintstones and Tom and Jerry.
The Scooby-Doo franchise has enjoyed plenty of success in the direct-to-video market, but S.C.O.O.B. aims higher as it ventures into theaters in 2018. With the reboot expected to lead to more wide-release animated features based on other beloved Hanna-Barbera characters, such as The Flintstones or Yogi Bear, Warner Bros. is certainly betting big on S.C.O.O.B. to have the kind of success that would warrant further reboots and spin-offs.
Shepard’s hire by Warner Bros. is also something of a gamble. While the studio reportedly always envisioned having two directors work on S.C.O.O.B., Shepard has no directing experience with animated features. He does, however, have plenty of experience as a voice actor, most notably on Robot Chicken. Still, pegging him as co-director can be seen as a curious hire based on his lack of experience, and Cervone’s longtime work on animated features will likely have him taking the lead in that respect.
S.C.O.O.B. is slated to arrive in U.S. theaters on Sept. 21, 2018.