James Gunn Reminisces About Working on SCOOBY-DOO: THE MOVIE, Which He Originally Wrote as an R-Rated Film
Little known fact. James Gunn wrote the screenplay for Scooby-Doo: The Movie. A movie I quite enjoyed when I was growing up and still do to this day. I was in California on vacation when I saw it with my family. I really thought it was clever to make Scrappy Doo the villain because so many people hated him in the original series. I also thought the casting was so enjoyable. Sarah Michelle Gellar, Linda Cardellini, Freddie Prinze Jr, Isla Fisher, and Matthew Lillard were so great to watch re-enact my favorite cartoon characters. It was a kids movie, sure, but at fifteen years old I still thought it was funny and cool in its own right.
James Gunn had a lot of fun being involved in writing it, and got to be on set with the actors during the filming and he has very fond memories. In honor of the 15th anniversary, Gunn talks about his memories with the actors and his fear of criticism at the time in a post on Facebook. I thought the part about being bummed out at some of the bad reviews was hopeful, because even though people might be down on you, if you don't give up you can still be successful in what you want to do.
Also, he talks about how the original draft of Scooby Doo was rated R! Oh, how fun would that have been. Check out his Facebook post below.
MEMORIES OF SCOOBY-DOO: THE MOVIE
Incredible. 15 years ago today the first Scooby-Doo: The Movie opened. For those of you who don't know, I wrote the screenplay for this film, and it was my first studio film, only having made Tromeo and Juliet and The Specials (film) before it. I had loved the character of Scooby-Doo since I was a kid and was excited at the prospect of making a live action film with 2002's cutting CGI technology(!!). Yes, it was not exactly what we planned going out - I had written an edgier film geared toward older kids and adults, and the studio ended pushing it into an clean cut children's film. And, yes, the rumors are true - the first cut was rated R by the MPAA, and the female stars' cleavage was CGI'd away so as not to offend. But, you know, such is life. I had a lot of fun making this movie, regardless of all that. And I was also able to eat, buy a car, and a house because of it.
We shot in Australia. My favorite memory? Freddie Prinze Jr and Sarah Michelle Gellar had rented an enormous, mostly-unfurnished house out on the ocean. The cast, a few members of the crew, and I, had massive games of Nerf gun tag throughout the house trying to kill each other for hours. Truly some of the most fun I ever had. I also remember sitting in Lillard's apartment late at night playing the game "Celebrity" with a group of celebrities. I was still pretty new to Los Angeles and the whole thing was a bit surreal. Oh, and I also remember doing a karaoke video in the touristy section of Surfer's Paradise with me and Linda Cardellini and Isla Fisher, line dancing with weird hats and props to, I think, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun or something. I know I have that video - I think blackmailing Linda and Isla might be a good anniversary gift to myself. On a second thought, they could probably use it to blackmail me.
I made some very close friends along the way - mostly Linda, one of the people I love most in the world, but also the wonderful Matthew Lillard, and, later, through Scooby-Doo 2 (yes I did the sequel) my great pal Seth Green.
So what do I remember from 15 years ago? I remember being bummed out that the reviews were pretty terrible. These days I might glance at the occasional review (admittedly, mostly only good ones), but back then I read EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. I also read everything written about the movie online, by, like, anybody, including bulletin board folks. It was a kind of film-self-involvement I've learned to avoid since, but needless to say it was not an exceptionally good day. But it was followed by, honestly, one of the best days of my life.
At about 5:30 Saturday morning opening weekend Lorenzo DiBonaventura - the head of production at Warners, and one of the people who gave me my start - called me and woke me up at home to tell me we made 18 million the Friday before. Now that doesn't seem to be all that much today - Guardians will make around that on a Thursday night alone - but back then it was enough to make the movie the biggest June opening ever. Until that moment, I thought if the movie came out and didn't do well I'd be able to continue getting writing jobs, and my life was going to be the same. But in that one single moment I knew everything had changed.
And it did. I was offered every movie you can imagine. Like, uh, the Jabberjaw movie, and The Jetsons movie, and the Captain Caveman movie. I was offered tons of money to do all of these things. So, of course, me being me, I chose to write Dawn of the Dead. Go figure out my brain, who knows.
So I raise my morning cafe au lait to toast Scooby-Doo! Thanks for the memories, pal.