Talking with writer extraordinare, James Gunn

The writer of The Specials talks writing superhero flicks, 
for Warner Brothers, and Troma

Author: Smilin` Jack Ruby,  Date: 9/1/00

The following is taken from this interview.
All copy writes belong to the author. 
The full article and credits can be read

“We moved on to Scooby-Doo, which I had a lot of questions about. I think the first thing I said was that I was dreading the movie after having read the script to Josie and the Pussycats a couple of days before. We talked for a minute about that movie and I brought up the fact that it was being done by Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont who had made Viva Rock Vegas. That’s when James got going.

Basically, Gunn told me that what they want to do with Scooby-Doo is to avoid everything they hate about a movie like Viva Rock Vegas. He said that the fellow producing the pic, Charles Roven (Twelve Monkeys, Three Kings, forthcoming Rollerball) made the comment that they could go out and make a big budget movie that’ll rake in $150 million or they can take this opportunity to make a movie that people will remember. 

Gunn said that he loves Scooby, the character and the show. Secondarily, he hated (yep, his word) what they did with The Flintstones movie. He explained that the main problem was that they were doing a live-action movie, yet playing like they were cartoons. He didn’t feel that worked and for Scooby-Doo that’s not what they’re going for as they’re not making an animated pic. He said that his goal was to keep the integrity of the show and not have it be all "winking at the camera." 

I wasn’t sure Gunn would want to talk about Scooby-Doo this much, but as it’s what he’s working on right now, he was pretty excited about it. He said that they showed him some stuff this week, in fact - designs and what-not – and he was "freakin’ out." He claimed that everybody’s got the same vision for this and it’s up to par. Even Lorenzo Di Bonaventura – El Jefe de la Warner Brothers – is on the same page. Gunn had really nice things to say about Di Bonaventura and said something along the lines of that Lorenzo was a bit "weird," too, and that’s one of the reasons he thinks that Warners will continue supporting Roven and Gunn’s ideas. (I wrote that this way so that it is never misconstrued that Gunn said Di Bonaventura was "weird" – it was a compliment more than anything). 

Anyway, I asked a few more questions, including asking what Scooby was going to look like (animatronic, real-dog like Inspector Gadget, animated) and Gunn kept his mouth shut about that (big shock). He said that they had watched all those movies and their plans for Scooby was in response to the failings of those films (not his words exactly, but you get the point). Then he told me something rather surprising - Scooby-Doo is meant to be a scary movie. 

Gunn said that his favorite movies were like Ghostbusters and especially Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (you remember, it had Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney, Jr. in it – friggin’ hilarious even today, especially Vincent Price’s "cameo"). So, if you’re looking for a movie to hold it to, go there. The budget is going to be high, actually, and when I asked why, Gunn replied, "special effects." 

Gunn reiterated how much he cherished the memory of Scooby-Doo as a kid and how he thought it was simply the greatest cartoon. He said that Scooby was "not cute, note heroic, he’s like we are." 

We moved on to other projects and the Spy vs. Spy movie came up. I asked if this movie might go before Scooby-Doo and he said he was 99% sure it wouldn’t. Because of the strike, there are movies that are being moved forward and ones that are not. Scooby-Doo is really being aimed to shoot before the strike whereas Spy vs. Spy is not."

Scribe James Gunn is talking about his script for the coming Scooby Doo movie. 

While talking to Daily Radar, Gunn explained why he may have been the right man for the job writing the script, saying, "I don't know if I can answer what makes me the right man for the job -- that was somebody else's responsibility to decide. But I can tell you why I wanted to do it. Firstly, I love the character of Scooby-Doo as well as the rest of Mystery Inc., and the cartoons are key components of my earliest memories. Secondly, I thought it'd be an invigorating challenge writing it. I wanted to take a pop-culture icon like Scooby-Doo and look at him from a different angle. I wanted to take the weird and hopefully fascinating journey from a two-dimensional, 22-minute cartoon to a three-dimensional, 90-minute movie. The problem with most cartoons-to-movies is that they attempt to be exact replicas of the cartoons -- people speaking like cartoons, etc. I never wanted to simply watch a couple hundred episodes of Scooby-Doo cartoons and then vomit them out in a different order, longer and with real people. Instead, I wanted to say, "Let's take it as fact that there's this dog that can talk, and this group of mystery-solving teenagers, who have, in the past, come up against numerous men in masks posing as supernatural entities, and let's take it as a fact that all the other traditions of Scooby-Doo really happened as well. If that were all real, what would these people be like? What would be their strengths and weaknesses? What problems would they have between them? What are they like between mysteries? What don't we see on the show? In essence, if they are real, who are they?" That was a starting point for me, while simultaneously putting Mystery Inc. in a bigger, more threatening situation than they've ever been in before. The ride, thus far, has been a blast." 

Regarding the online harsh criticisms of his script, Gunn simply says, "Wait." 

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