The early days of Warner Bros. being acquired by Discovery saw the abrupt cancellation of two films that were well on their way to being done: Batgirl and Scoob! Holiday Haunt. Both films were killed simultaneously as part of WB Discovery’s efforts to cut costs following the merger, but understandably, it’s Batgirl’s sudden end that overwhelmed the conversation. As WB Discovery has been publicly trying to begin a new era of DC films, the crew for Scoob! continued making the film, regardless of if it would ever see the light of day, and it only wrapped production on November 4.
Speaking to Variety, co-director Michael Kurinsky talked about the final days of making Holiday Haunt, which was set to be his directorial debut. As he explained it, he was in a meeting working on the film when he was informed of the cancellation via a Twitter DM, followed later by the official confirmation via WB. “In our phone calls that we had with people, they explained that this is what’s happening,” said Kurinsky. “And because we are taking this tax write-off, we can’t monetize it. That’s how it was explained to me.”
Before the film’s cancellation, Holiday Haunt was “95% finished,” he added, and already had a tight deadline. The crew started from a two-page outline made in 2020, and were told that the film had to be done in time for its intended December 2022 release. While some may think production continued as some act of defiance, Kurinsky revealed it was more practical than that: “It was already paid for...I can’t say it was [Warner Bros] saying, ‘Please finish this movie, we want you to.’ I think it was more like, ‘Finish the movie because we’ve paid to finish the movie.’”
Holiday Haunt’s plot would’ve seen the seen the teenage version of Mystery Inc. go on a Christmas trip to meet Fred’s uncle, Ned, and still adjust to being a team just a few months after the 2020 film’s opening scene. With a voice cast that would’ve included Ming-Na Wen, Mark Hamill, and Frank Welker, Kurinsky described it as “Scooby-Doo’s first Christmas,” complete with a mystery to solve at Ned’s holiday resort. For him and co-director Bill Haller, both of whom credit the Scooby franchise with inspiring them to pursue careers in animation, it was “a dream come true.”
Kurinsky was quite candid in how he felt about having two years of his life suddenly cut out from under him, and the complicated feelings he had while keeping production going along. As much as he tried to keep morale high for the team, he admitted to being torn up at times, stating “That I got to realize so many goals in my life, and then to not have it come out is, as you can imagine, incredibly disappointing.”
At the same time, he’s deeply is proud of the work achieved, and said he would go through the experience again, if only because it’s helped him grow as a filmmaker. “Just because the public doesn’t see it, there are people who have seen it and people who have worked on it,” he said. “I’m so thankful for everybody that, even though they knew this thing doesn’t have a chance of coming out, they still worked like it was coming out. [...] This movie made a beautiful sound that one day I hope everybody can hear.”
Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.
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