6. 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 very young. There were some genuinely touching moments – the morals of the story were as pure and as positive as you may 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.
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5. Storks (2016)
Worldwide Box Office: $183.4million
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, Kelsey Grammer, Ty Burrell, Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, Danny Trejo, Awkwafina, Ike Barinholtz
Co-written and co-directed by Nicholas Stoller, the man who had helped to bring The Muppets back to the big screen under the Disney banner as a co-screenwriter, Storks was a film very much in the image of your typical Warner Animation Group releases: a below average screenplay littered with genuinely funny moments and terrific voice acting.
Adapting the old fable of Storks (a long-beaked type of bird) delivering babies to the houses of families, as brought to life in a much more sinister fashion by Hans Christian Anderson in his 19th century short story “The Storks”, WAG’s 2016 release felt uncoordinated, its screenplay seeming to stretch one very simple idea way too thin and its producers attempting to rectify that with minute after minute of quick-hitting, low value jokes that hit more than a handful of times but simply didn’t hit regularly enough to warrant such a barrage.
The animation itself was certainly high value, and a notable step away from the techniques put to screen in their previous release The Lego Movie, but while Storks was certainly worth looking at and was just about funny enough to warrant it not being a complete waste of time, Warner Animation Group were completely outshone in their take on the old fable by Disney Pixar’s short film Partly Cloudy released 7 years prior in 2009.
It’s not that Storks is necessarily bad, it’s just that Pixar did it better and they did it better in just 6 minutes, helping to relegate this film towards the bottom of our list.
4. Smallfoot (2018)
Worldwide Box Office: $214million
Starring: Zendaya, Channing Tatum, LeBron James, James Corden, Gina Rodriguez, Common, Danny DeVito, Yara Shahidi, Jimmy Tatro
A movie with an animation style more akin to Storks than The Lego Movie, Smallfoot was something of a mixed bag so far as the Warner Animation Group filmography goes.
The animation was at times spectacular and at other times completely bland, while the film’s core idea was far from unique or other-worldly enough to prop up an animated film but the content was largely wholesome and the characters endearing enough to maintain interest.
At a worldwide box office return of $214million, Smallfoot became WAG’s 3rd highest grossing film, yet it never became as much of a talking point with audiences as the studio’s biggest releases, its star-studded cast including Zendaya, Channing Tatum and LeBron James seeming to tempt people into theatres without necessarily touching base with the core cinema-going community.
Featuring a strong message at the centre of a heart-warming narrative, Smallfoot is very much a watchable Warner Animation Group entry, an enjoyable family film to spend a few hours with, but not quite the memorable animated film release that some of our remaining selections are.
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