I actually enjoyed watching the Scooby-Doo movies — the cast was good (and into what they were doing), and the plots goofy fun with some nudge nudge moments for adults (like Shaggy’s smoke-filled van).
So I was surprised to hear that they were making another one. (I thought 2 hadn’t done well enough to consider it.) Scooby-Doo: In the Beginning is “an all-new live-action prequel” due out in Fall 2009. It’s set in high school, where the gang meet for the first time, and it’s a co-production between the Cartoon Network (where the film will debut at the same time it’s released on DVD) and Warner Premiere, the studio’s production arm for original content for release “direct to consumer”. They’re talking about it now because principal photography has begun in Vancouver.
Like so many of the current brand extensions/sequels — recently, WarGames: The Dead Code, Lost Boys: The Tribe, Bring It On: In It to Win It (4th in the series), and The Cutting Edge: Going for the Gold have all been brought to my attention — it features no one I’ve ever heard of. Rob Amell plays Freddy, and the rest of the cast are described as “relative newcomers”: Kaitlyn Melton as Daphne, Hayley Alcroft as Velma, and Nick Palatas as Shaggy (the key role, I think, since he’s got to make the computer-generated dog believable).
The director is Brian Levant, who (and this part of the press release amused me) “has significant experience in the live-action/CG arena with both canines and Hanna-Barbara properties. Levant directed the popular dog-starring films Beethoven and Snow Dogs and was behind the camera for the Hanna-Barbera cartoon-brought-to-life versions of The Flintstones and The Flintstones in Viva Las Vegas.”
Can you believe Scooby-Doo started in 1969? He’s had 10 TV series, 7 specials, and 11 direct-to-video films (soon to be 12). As for why this choice, the two previous movies are cited as making a total of nearly $458 million worldwide.
I find it interesting that Cartoon Network is doing more live-action programming. This one is a bit of a stretch but understandable, I guess, since Scooby started as a cartoon. I still don’t get why they’re adapting The Vanishers, since that time-travel story would be easier to do animated and it has no cartoon connection. But many networks are branching out these dates, since the competition is ever-increasing, and they may think it’s of interest to their audience, regardless of format.