Warner Bros. is betting big on the “cinematic universe” concept as part of its long term future. In addition to the DC Extended Universe spinning out of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, the studio is angling to continue the Harry Potter franchise with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, expand the reach of the Lego Movie universe and potentially revive the Looney Tunes as feature players like Speedy Gonzales.
As one of the oldest and most powerful studios in Hollywood, WB has a vast library to build franchises from – not only including its own creations, but others acquired through takeovers and partnerships with smaller companies. Case in point: The studio also owns the Hanna-Barbera cartoon library, and is looking to add that vast network of classic characters to their menagerie of Cinematic Universes with S.C.O.O.B.: a reboot of the omnipresent Scooby-Doo franchise.
Per EW, WB executives announced the S.C.O.O.B. title for the film (slated to arrive in 2018) at the 2016 CinemaCon in Las Vegas, while describing it as “our first shot at unlocking the whole Hanna-Barbera Universe.” The project, which is being directed by longtime cartoon helmsman Tony Cervone, will presumably be a revival of the venerable cartoon franchise about a group of young people (Fred Jones, Velma Dinkley, Daphne Blake and Norville “Shaggy” Rogers) who solve seemingly-supernatural mysteries with the help of Scooby-Doo: a talking but otherwise not terribly intelligent great dane. Cervone has previously directed two direct-to-video Scooby features, Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo and Scooby-Doo! and KISS: Rock & Roll Mystery, which were both animated.
The news comes as part of a major revival for Scooby and the entire Hanna-Barbera brand. DC Comics (a subsidiary of Warner Bros) recently announced a major push to reimagine some of the onetime cartoon giant’s most popular characters in new comic book series. That initiative (which also includes new takes on The Flintstones and the action/superhero crossover Future Quest) is set to feature a Ghostbusters-esque take on the characters titled Scooby Apocalypse – though it is unknown whether the two reboots will have any connection to one another.
Created in 1969 by for Hanna-Barbera by Joe Ruby and Ken Spears (later of Ruby-Spears Productions), the original series, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?, was a counterculture parody of detective fiction in which the quartet of young heroes traveled the countryside solving mysteries which at first appeared supernatural but were typically revealed to have more mundane origins – often involving local superstitions being intentionally preyed-upon in order to distract from a real crime being committed behind the scenes. Though frequently parodied for its adherence to formula, the series also attracted praise from no less than science advocate Carl Sagan, who lauded the series for teaching children to be skeptical about the supernatural.
While the original “Where Are You?” series only ran for two seasons, the show was subsequently retooled into a series of spin-offs and continuations including The New Scooby-Doo Movies, Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo, The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo and A Pup Named Scooby-Doo all the way up through the 1990s. A series of made-for-TV movies also followed, along with a pair of live-action films in the early-2000s and at least four more TV animation reboots after that; along with an impressive run of direct-to-video animated films currently numbering 27 individual installments (and counting) – the most recent of which paired the characters with real-life WWE professional wrestlers.
S.C.O.O.B. will thus serve as the launch pad for the next phase of the surprisingly durable Scooby-Doo property, under the supervision of a larger “think tank” that WB has put together for its animation department (as was touched upon during the studio’s CinemaCon presentation). That group includes the LEGO Movie writers/directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who are producing all of the developing LEGO films as well as co-writing 2018’s The LEGO Movie Sequel, in addition to filmmaker Nicholas Stoller – director of Neighbors and co-writer of The Muppets/Muppets Most Wanted – as well as directing duo Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (Focus, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot), who were previously slated to direct a live-action ACME movie for WB.
S.C.O.O.B. is currently set to reach U.S. theaters on September 21st, 2018.