As more studios experiment with bringing high-quality pics into the home during the current COVID-19 home quarantine, Warner Bros is jumping into the mix by fast-tracking its animated pic Scoob! onto PVOD and premium digital ownership on May 15 in the U.S. and Canada. The Tony Cervone-directed feature animated take on the famed Hanna-Barbera cartoon TV series Scooby Doo was originally set to open May 15 in theaters.
Scoob! will be available for a 48-hour rental PVOD period for U.S. $19.99, or EST price of $24.99. Warner Bros has no future plans to have big pics like Wonder Woman 1984, Tenet or In the Heights skip theaters and head into homes. In the Heights was re-scheduled today for June 18, 2021. If there are any movie theaters open in mid-May, I understand Scoob! will not play in cinemas.
The other reason why, we hear, Warners is taking Scoob! into the home is largely because the film is finished. Recently, Universal’s decision to take Trolls World Tour into the homes over Easter weekend with a $19.99 48-hour PVOD rental yielded estimated first-weekend stateside revenue between $40M-$50M. Also recently, Paramount unloaded MRC’s The Lovebirds to Netflix, with STX sending its family live-action feature My Spy to Amazon Prime. Disney said that Artemis Fowl, originally scheduled to open in theaters over Memorial Day weekend, would go to Disney+ at some point in the future.
Warner Bros chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff made the announcement about Scoob! today, the same day corporate parent AT&T said WarnerMedia’s HBO Max will be offered free or via promotion to “tens of millions” of its U.S. wireless, video and internet customers on the streaming service’s launch date May 27.
“While we’re all eager to be able to once again show our films in theaters, we’re navigating new, unprecedented times which call for creative thinking and adaptability in how we distribute our content,” said Sarnoff. “We know fans are eager to see Scoob! and we’re delighted we can deliver this feel-good movie for families to enjoy while they’re home together.”
The new pic follows how lifelong friends Scooby and Shaggy first met and how they joined with young detectives Fred, Velma and Daphne to form the famous Mystery Inc. Now, with hundreds of cases solved and adventures shared, Scooby and the gang face their biggest, most challenging mystery ever: a plot to unleash the ghost dog Cerberus upon the world. As they race to stop this global “dogpocalypse,” the gang discovers that Scooby has a secret legacy and an epic destiny greater than anyone imagined.
The cast of Scoob! includes Will Forte as Shaggy; two-time Oscar nominee Mark Wahlberg as Blue Falcon; Jason Isaacs as the infamous Dick Dastardly; Gina Rodriguez as Velma; Zac Efron as Fred; Amanda Seyfried as Daphne; Kiersey Clemons as Falcon Fury pilot Dee Dee Skyes; Ken Jeong as the Falcon Force’s Dynomutt; Tracy Morgan as Captain Caveman; and Frank Welker as Scooby-Doo.
Warner Bros released two live-action versions of Scooby-Doo on the big screen during the early aughts, directed by Raja Gosnell and written by James Gunn, that accumulated close to $500 million at the global box office.
While live-action production has been stalled, animation movies have had a better time of it in the COVID-19 climate as they remain in production. Most productions are used to working remotely in far-off-locations, with Zoom calls involving crew units coordinated by films’ directors and producers. For Scoob! the animation vendor was ReelFX, headquartered in Dallas, with work also completed in studio in Montreal. Currently, ReelFX has 500 staffers working from home.
Cervone told Deadline that when the COVID-19 cases emerged last month, Scoob! was close to done, already in the mixing stage, with shots being finished and heading to DI. The editorial department at that point split up and took their equipment home to work. Color correction was also completed at home, and it was crucial the crew all have the same standard monitor for uniform results. Ditto on speakers when it came to sound design and editing.
“We would make sure that everything was in sync, that we would have the same kind of quality speakers, that there was a big enough bandwidth that we could really get the sound quality up, and so from a design point of view, we were able to do that as well,” Cervone tells Deadline.
Any ADR for actors could easily be administered by an actor over an iPhone. On animated pics, it’s feasible for talent to record remotely; i.e., earlier in production, Issacs recorded in a London studio, which Cervone oversaw remotely from Montreal via Skype.
“Animation crews work pretty easily remotely together,” says Cervone. “We’re used to working at home and we’re used to working remotely, and overcoming these types of challenges.”
“This movie has consumed me for the last five years and I’m really happy with the results of all that effort and hard work,” he added. “This team has really risen to the occasion and really done a great job.”