Warner Bros. is currently negotiating with actor/writer Dax Shepard (Parenthood, the upcoming Chips) to co-direct a Scooby-Doo animated feature with Warner Bros. Animation veteran Tony Cervone (Space Jam animation director, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated supervising producer).

If Shepard joins the film as director, it would follow the existing Warner Animation Group strategy to stunt cast Hollywood personalities with no animation experience as directors of animated features. The studio’s upcoming animated feature, Storks, also includes a co-director with no prior animation directing experience—Nicholas Stoller—who wrote the film’s script.

Shepard is also set to co-write the Scooby screenplay with Matt Lieberman (Dr. Dolittle: Tail to the Chief), while Phineas and Ferb co-creator Dan Povenmire will exec produce. The film is slotted for release on September 21, 2018.

Warner Bros. has a legacy of employing some of the greatest American animation directors in the history of the art form including Tex Avery, Friz Freleng, Chuck Jones, and Bob Clampett. These directors not only had an intimate knowledge of the animation process, but were trained to think visually so that they could take advantage of the medium’s creative possibilities. This is in contrast to the current strand of thinking in contemporary Hollywood that anyone can direct an animated feature or create an animated TV series (think HBO’s Animals). It’s an attitude that is completely dismissive of the art form and a fundamental failure to recognize that animation, although sharing many qualities with live-action filmmaking, is a distinct art form.

Variety first reported the news of Shepard becoming a director on the film.

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