8. Scoob! (2020)
Worldwide Box Office (Including Premium VoD): $35.5million
Starring: Frank Welker, Zac Efron, Will Forte, Amanda Seyfried, Gina Rodriguez, Mark Wahlberg, Tracy Morgan, Jason Isaacs, Ken Jeong, Kiersey Clemons, Simon Cowell
Warner Animation Group’s reinvention of the Scooby Doo IP was given a tough route to its audience and was used as a market-tester for the burgeoning (and necessary, in terms of the date of this release at least) Premium VoD market, making for the lowest return on investment in the studio’s history. The film was hardly a blow-away critical success either…
Starring a plethora of marketable and talented names, headlined by Frank Welker and Will Forte as Scooby Dooby Doo and Shaggy respectively, and a wide range of popular Hanna-Barbera characters, stories and jokes to delve into, Scoob! had so much more potential than the finished product eventually offered, the biggest points of contention being how the film was seemingly at odds with itself regarding its target audience and how the animation was very poor (at least by the studio’s usual high standards).
In Scoob!, character models seemed devoid of texture and side characters seemed to be barely finished replicas with little by the way of differing animations, meanwhile jokes about Dick Dastardly’s name and Fred’s sexuality, as well as points made about politics, were simply impossible to land in a film that for the most part played to a very young audience. There were some genuinely touching moments – the morals of the story were as pure and as positive as you would expect from a Scooby Doo film – but this release lacked the inspiration of WAG’s better productions, and didn’t take enough advantage of Warner Bros’ wide-range of related IPs to become a true hit. Things could have been worse, sure, but they could have been much better too.
Recommended for you: Laika Animated Movies Ranked
7. Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021)
Worldwide Box Office: $154.9million
Starring: LeBron James, Cedric Joe, Don Cheadle, Sonequa Martin-Green
While criticisms of the long-awaited Space Jam sequel pointed to the Malcolm D. Lee film being little more than a corporate showcase of IP, this glorified animated advert (this time for HBO Max as opposed to Lego) at least had some semblance of stakes and relatability when compared to the infinitely more serious, less imaginative and less aspirational entries listed in this edition of Ranked so far.
A New Legacy functioned in many ways like the Disneyfication of The Muppets in the group’s self-titled 2011 film, with the beloved Looney Tunes – shunned by society in-universe and in real-life – returning to prominence. Here, as with The Muppets, they don’t sell out their values in order to make their returns, and when combined with the ever-cinematic sport of Basketball, they are central to Space Jam: A New Legacy’s relatively frequent offerings of laughs, wonderment and touching notes of nostalgia.
Kids will love the over-the-top visuals and vibrant colour palette, and the rampant actions of the Tunes characters is bound to draw a chuckle from even the most hardened viewer, so while there isn’t as much depth to the narrative or as many layers to the comedy as can be found in other Warner Animation Group offerings, Space Jam: A New Legacy is by no means a poor film. In fact, for what is essentially a star vehicle for a basketball player, A New Legacy is something of an original family blockbuster.
6. DC League of Super-Pets (2022)
Worldwide Box Office: $207.4million
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Kate McKinnon, Ben Schwartz, Natasha Lyonne, Keanu Reeves, John Krasinski, Vanessa Bayer, Diego Luna, Marc Maron, Dascha Polanco, Daveed Diggs, Keith David, Jameela Jamil, Olivia Wilde, Lena Headey, Alfred Molina
DC League of Super-Pets is very Modern Warner Bros in how it maximises multiple IPs for potential profit, in this case teaming the pets of numerous DC Comics heroes and villains in a meta-textual animated adventure for kids.
The animation in this 2022 release is a far cry from the standard that WAG entered the marketplace with on The LEGO Movie in 2014, and it is tough to get beyond the very board-room-first approach to the story-telling, but this project co-written and co-directed by Jared Stern (director of Happy Anniversary and co-writer on The LEGO Batman Movie) far outpunches its weight class, ultimately becoming a funny and hearty film well worth any DC fan’s time.
Voice work from comedy favourites Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart certainly helps, but it’s in Stern’s knowledge of DC and the apparent fan-casting of the human heroes (Keanu Reeves as Batman, for example) that really sends DC League of Super-Pets over the top. As is the case with most Warner Animation Group releases, there are surprisingly emotive story beats, and the themes are universally relatable, so while Super-Pets certainly doesn’t reach for the same heights as other studio offerings, it is a good time nonetheless.