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The fact that we never got a third live-action Scooby-Doo movie may not have only come down to tepid reviews diminishing box office returns. During a recent sit-down with Esquire, actor Freddie Prinze Jr. admitted that he lost his taste for the sleuthing franchise after Warner Bros. forced him to take a drastic pay cut on Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed when his co-stars demanded a raise.
"I remember thinking, ‘Hold up, who's giving them the raise? Me or y'all?’ Like we made you guys three-quarters of a billion dollars, you can't afford to pay them what I'm making on this? Screw that," he said. Prinze, who is married to fellow Scooby-Doo alum, Sara Michelle Gellar (Daphne Blake), didn't go into detail on which actors were holding out for a bigger paycheck. To get Prinze Jr. to comply, the studio purportedly leaked the figure of his salary to the media. "My ego was so angry."
Over the years, however, the actor's attitude has softened quite a bit, particularly after learning how much the films have meant to audiences. "All these people that had grown up loving those movies started reaching out…and then I got what I felt was a more accurate perspective on what that movie meant to people because I was no longer viewing it through the lenses of the studio,” he added.
Written by a pre-Guardians of the Galaxy James Gunn and directed by Raja Gosnell (Big Mama's House), the live-action Scooby-Doo features racked up $460 million in global ticket sales. Matthew Lillard and Linda Cardellini rounded out the principal human cast as Shaggy Rogers and Velma Dinkley, respectively. The titular Great Dane at the heart of Mystery, Incorporated was rendered with CGI and voiced by Neil Fanning. Gunn, who worked to subvert expectations set by the original cartoon, had a pretty cool idea for a potential trilogy capper (one that would expose humanity as the real monsters), but the studio never moved forward on it.
"I think for me, the big breakthrough in finding out where I wanted to go with Scooby-Doo was making the choice to make the monsters real," Gunn says in a making-of documentary for the 2002 original. "And at that point, I thought back to the movie I loved the most as a kid, which was Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein. The reason was because the movie was both very scary and very funny."
Scooby-Doo and Scooby-Doo 2 are currently streaming on HBO Max.
Looking for another groovy mystery? The Lost Symbol is now streaming on Peacock.