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SYFY WIRE Scooby-Doo

So what was ‘Scoob! Holiday Haunt’ about - and why’d they finish it even though it was canceled?

Scooby’s first Christmas was supposed to be a detective story…until the Mystery Machine ran out of gas.

By Benjamin Bullard

Next time the Mystery Machine gang calls out “Scooby-Doo, where are you?!” they might want to look deep in the safely-locked vaults at Warner Bros. Discovery, where Scoob! Holiday Haunt will no doubt be securely stashed away, unreleased and far from any chance at reaching the public’s eyes.

The animated movie was set for a Dec. 22 premiere at HBO Max before the studio permanently shelved it (along with the similarly-fated Batgirl) as part of a dramatic cost-saving effort back in August. Already nearly finished with the film when news came that no one would ever get to see it, directors Michael Kurinsky and Bill Haller decided to forge ahead and complete it anyway — even though they knew that Holiday Haunt would never actually haunt the small screen.

In a recent interview with Variety, Kurinsky opened up about why the creative team ended up finishing the movie, and even offered a straight-from the Great Dane’s mouth synopsis of Holiday Haunt’s story. “The plot was basically Scooby-Doo’s first Christmas,” Kurinsky explained, admitting it was “incredibly disappointing” to drive the Mystery Machine so near the finish line before learning it would simply have to pull over and stop.

Holiday Haunt was supposed to set out only a couple of months after the Halloween scene that highlights the start of its 2020 predecessor Scoob!, which (like Holiday Haunt) featured Frank Welker as the iconic voice of Scooby-Doo. Fred, Daphne, Velma, and Shaggy all would have still been in the early days of forming their team sleuthing dynamic, when Fred’s uncle Ned (a new character to the franchise) would invite them out to his holiday resort hangout.

“The gang takes Scooby up to this [holiday themed resort] that Fred’s uncle owns,” Kurisnky said. “And of course, just like every other Scooby-Doo episode, they go up to a place, a mystery presents itself and the gang now gets involved in the mystery. And we’re off!”

Estimated to cost around $40 million to make, Scoob! Holiday Haunt won’t get a chance to hoover up moolah like a freshly-opened box of Scooby Snacks. By canceling the film, the studio instead can mark it down as a tax break — so long, that is, as it never attempts to make any money from it.

That means there’s “no scenario where they can sell it, stream it, anything,” said Kurinsky. “They just can’t because any move they would make would monetize it, and then they would lose their tax write-off…The reason we were able to finish this movie is because it was already paid for. I can’t say it was [Warner Bros] saying, ‘Please finish this movie, we want you to.’ I think it was more like, ‘Finish the movie because we’ve paid to finish the movie.’”

Even though fans won’t be treated to Scoob! Holiday Haunt this Christmas, completing the film was still a labor of love for the first-time director. “It’s got me thinking about that saying, ‘If a tree falls in the forest and no one’s there to hear it, did it make a sound?’ And the answer after this experience is a resounding yes…This movie made a beautiful sound that one day I hope everybody can hear.”

Looking for more kid movie fare in the meantime? Stream Chicken Run, The Croods, Despicable Me 1-2, How to Train Your Dragon 1-2, Kung Fu Panda 2 and more right now on Peacock.