By JAKE COYLE
NEW YORK (AP) — The animated Scooby-Doo film “Scoob!” will bypass theaters and premiere directly on digital platforms, Warner Bros. said Tuesday, making it the latest studio to experiment with an on-demand release during the pandemic shutdown.
“Scoob!” had originally been set to open in theaters on May 15. But instead, on the same date, it will be available for a $20 digital rental and $25 digital purchase.
Warner Bros. joins Universal Pictures and the Walt Disney Co. in testing the video on demand waters while theaters remain shuttered and moviegoers are locked down at home. So far, the largest movies to make the movie have been family films. Universal earlier this month sent “Trolls World Tour” to on-demand. Disney has said “Artemis Fowl” will go straight to streaming on Disney Plus in June.
“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 Ann Sarnoff, Warner Bros. chief executive, in a statement.
Universal claimed “Trolls World Tour” set a new high mark for digital rentals, though it declined to share how much the film made. Paramount Pictures also sold one of its upcoming releases, the romantic comedy “Lovebirds,” to Netflix.
The major studios have otherwise postponed their top releases to late summer, the fall or next year. Warner Bros. on Monday reshuffled its release schedule for films including “The Batman” and a “Sopranos” prequel. The studio’s next scheduled theatrical releases are Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” on July 17 and “Wonder Woman 1984” on Aug. 14. Warner Bros. on Tuesday also moved the adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights,” originally planned for this summer, to summer 2021.
“Scoob,” which features a voice cast including Will Forte, Gina Rodriguez, Zac Efron and Amanda Seyfried, follows how Scooby and Shaggy first met.
Warner Bros. opted not to send “Scoob!” straight to its streaming service, HBO Max, even though the timing nearly lines up. HBO Max launches on May 27.