When Scoob! was first announced as a project back in 2016, the idea driving it was incredibly ambitious. While Scooby Doo and the rest of the Mystery Machine gang were always going to be the lead characters, they were going to be shown as part of a massive Hanna-Barbara universe, with the film finding key roles for a number of notable and fan-favorite characters.
That, however, is now not really the movie that is heading to theaters this spring. While the film will feature some significant non-Scooby-related characters in key roles, the project wound up cutting a number of them from the final version of the story. Why? For a very good reason: there simply wasn’t enough space in the film to both include them, and do justice to the principal protagonists.
Last month, I joined a small group of journalists on a trip to the edit bay of Scoob!, and it was in conversation with director Tony Cervone and producer Pam Coats that we learned about the evolution of the project, and about the Hanna-Barbara characters that didn’t wind up making the final cut of the movie. Spurred by concept art that was posted on the wall, the filmmakers were asked specifically about how Grape Ape from The Great Grape Ape Show factored into the plot, and Cervone explained what happened to him and others over the course of production:
At one point we did have more characters in the movie, and the reason that they're not in it is it's a 90 minute movie, and you have to spend enough time with the characters. So at one point, yeah, Grape Ape was in the movie; Jabberjaw was in the movie; Atom Ant was in the movie. But we just didn't have enough time. We tried for a long time.
In Scoob!, audiences will find the Mystery Machine gang on a new wild adventure – one that begins when Shaggy (Will Forte) and Scooby-Doo (Frank Welker) are abducted by Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg), Dynomutt (Ken Jeong) and their team for a mission working to disrupt the nefarious plans of the evil Dick Dastardly (Jason Isaacs) and his dog Muttley. Meanwhile, Velma (Gina Rodriguez), Daphne (Amanda Seyfried), and Fred (Zac Efron) use their resources to try and find their missing friends.
With the movie already doing some new things with the lead icons, it was decided by the filmmakers that overextending themselves by including a wide array of supporting characters ultimately just wasn’t in the project’s best interest. It simply wasn’t going to allow the creation of emotional connections to the material that they felt were more important than a series of cameos. Pam Coats explained,
You couldn't keep them alive long enough. You couldn't care about them enough. So we started stripping them away. At the core you want to end this movie really emotionally attached to Scooby and Shaggy, Dastardly and Muttley, and Dynomutt and Blue Falcon, and we couldn't do that with those characters there.
This news may be a bit disappointing for fans who were hoping to see Scoob! operate as an Avengers-style launch of a Hanna-Barbara Cinematic Universe, but there are silver linings. In addition to featuring characters like Blue Falcon, Dick Dastardly, and Captain Caveman (Tracy Morgan), Tony Cervone didn’t totally eliminate the idea of smaller cameos, while also highlighting the fact that the movie will feature a number of special Easter eggs for the die-hards to spot. Said the director,
There might be little cameos... I think when we first started this was much more like Hanna-Barbera Avengers, and then somehow along the way the more time we spent with Scooby and Shaggy, we were just like, 'This is all we care about.' Scooby and Shaggy had their own gravity that took up space.
What the future may hold for this particular idea is currently unknown, but that may change in a big way in the next few months as Scoob! makes its way to theaters. The animated film is set to hit the big screen on May 15th, and stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more updates and stories from my time visiting the edit bay.