Warner Bros. Pictures is doubling-down on its LEGO cinematic franchise after the critical/commercial success of The LEGO Movie, with a handful of spinoffs films and a sequel (titled, appropriately enough, The LEGO Movie Sequel). Before today, though, the studio only had one non-LEGO animated movie on its official slate of upcoming films (Storks), having instead opted to focus on live-action franchise fare, ranging from DC comic book adaptations to revivals of long-standing properties (like Tarzan).
WB has now officially confirmed that an animated Scooby-Doo feature film is in the development, with a eye on a theatrical release in 2018. Reports that WB had a live-action Scooby-Doo movie reboot in the works emerged back in June 2014, but it's been radio silence on that front since then; which is to say, it sounds like that project is dead and this animated movie has taken its place.
The new Scooby-Doo animated movie will be directed by Tony Cervone, who worked on several direct-to-video Hanna-Barbera cartoon movies (including, Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo) in the 2000s, as well as the animated series Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated in 2010. Meanwhile, the screenwriting duties on the project are being handled by Matt Lieberman: a Disney Writers program graduate, who penned the slow-coming Short Circuit reboot, as well as the developing Jetsons animated movie that WB has in the pipeline. The Jetsons animated feature film doesn't have an official release date yet, but the untitled Scooby-Doo movie is set to open in theaters on September 21st, 2018.
It would also seem that the Scooby-Doo movie is being positioned to serve as the beginning of a wave of modern animated films based on 20th century Hanna-Barbera cartoon properties (like The Jetsons), reading between the lines of the official statement from WB executive Greg Silverman, which was included in the studio's press release for the project (see below):
"Like countless fans, I have always loved the Hanna-Barbera cast of characters. As one of their most famous brand ambassadors, Scooby-Doo will take the lead in re-introducing this pantheon of enduringly popular animated stars on a grand scale with an exciting new movie.”
Scooby-Doo made the jump the live-action during the 2000s - with assistance from then lesser-known screenwriter James Gunn - to lucrative, though critically-underwhelming, results. By comparison, the adventures of the eponymous great dane and his mystery-solving human companions (slacker Shaggy and the brain trust of Velma, Fred, and Daphne) will have carried on successfully for just short of fifty years, by the time WB's new animated feature film arrives. In other words, a new cartoon movie may be something Scooby-Doo fans in general are more interested in, anyway (rather than another attempt to make a successful live-action/CGI hybrid). The production team involved here has the experience to deliver the goods, too.
Indeed, of late more Hollywood studios have given up adapting nostalgic cartoons into live-action/CGI movies (which became popular in the 2000s), opting instead to modernize brands like Scooby-Doo with computer animation. 20th Century Fox, for example, appears to have successfully brought the Peanuts franchise into the world of 3D animation with The Peanuts Movie (opening November 2015), while Sony Animation is rebooting The Smurfs on the big screen, with a fully computer-animated film that will stay closer to the aesthetics of the original Smurfs 2D cartoons and comic strips. Maybe Scooby-Doo will get a similar treatment when he returns to theaters (read: one that pleases fans old and new)?
The Untitled Scooby-Doo Animated Movie will open in U.S. theaters on September 21st, 2018.
Source: Warner Bros. Pictures