Warner Bros. is reaching out to some veteran talent to help shepherd their new takes on classic properties. First up in a live-action/animation hybrid picture is TON AND JERRY, followed by an animated SCOOBY-DOO movie. WB’s Home Entertainment wing has been cranking out animated mash-ups, one-offs, and original series and movies featuring both properties for years now, but the studio and Warner Animation Group are reportedly talking with some big names for what amounts to a modern reboot of the animated classics.
As Variety reports, Tim Story (THINK LIKE A MAN) is in negotiations to direct Tom and Jerry while Chris Columbus (HARRY POTTER) is on board the SCOOBY-DOO project as a creative producer. The people behind the resurgence of the beloved Hanna-Barbera properties include Warner Animation Group’s Allison Abbate, who oversees the division, executive Jesse Ehrman, and president of production Courtenay Valenti. The aim is, reportedly, to shine as much of a spotlight on these titles as those under the DC Comics and HARRY POTTER brands receive, though time will tell if modern audiences gravitate toward contemporary takes on these 20th century shows.
To bolster their chances, WB is pushing for a collaborative effort between their animation and live-action departments to develop both animated features and hybrid pictures. For example, the hybrid pictures’ animated component is expected to go through the normal animation process that opts for storyboarding over VFX’s normal pre-vis in order to make sure this aspect is as strong as it can be. WB is looking to leverage their strengths in both departments in order to deliver the strongest possible performers on the big screen, which is a common-sense approach but also one that’s not all that common since major studios tend to restrict their talent into silos.
Audiences and critics will get to see how this new approach plays out when TOM AND JERRY, the first live-action hybrid under this new plan, shoots in 2019. Story is coming off of wrapping production on New Line’s SHAFT, opening next summer, and was reportedly enthusiastic about taking on the famous cat-and-mouse pairing. Production is expected to shoot in the real world while incorporating the title characters as animated animals; they’ll stick to the classic shtick of using visual gags and physical comedy rather than casting actors to lend voices to the anthropomorphic antagonists. If this production plan pans out for TOM AND JERRY, the road will get a little smoother for the SPACE JAM sequel, which is another of the studio’s live-action hybrid that’s in development. LeBron James stars alongside the Looney Tunes characters in this picture produced by Ryan Coogler and directed by Terence Nance. Another hybrid picture in the works is the studio’s WILE E. COYOTE VS ACME, spirited along by Chris McKay.
Also on the schedule is the untitled SCOOBY-DOO project, a fully animated picture that’s due to arrive in theaters in the first quarter of 2020. Columbus has been interested in the film since he started working as a producer on the studio’s Gremlins reboot. He’ll work with Tony Cervone who directs from Kelly Fremon Craig‘s screenplay, adapted from Jack Donaldson and Derek Elliott‘s previous draft. And Scoob and the gang aren’t the only classic cartoons getting another shot: A JETSONS movie that has Matt Lieberman and Conrad Vernon (SAUSAGE PARTY) attached is in development, along with THE FLINTSTONES and WACKY RACES pictures.
There are a lot of properties in WB’s vaults and these are just some of the ones within arm’s reach of the door. Should the studio’s resurgent efforts prove fruitful, they might just go the Disney/Marvel route and dig a little deeper into their archives to find some truly interesting adaptations that have been waiting for the right creative team to come along.