Days after “Scooby-Doo” bow-wowed to a $54 million opening weekend gross, Warner Bros. has set an accelerated schedule for a sequel that will reteam director Raja Gosnell with original castmembers Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr., Matthew Lillard and Linda Cardellini.
WB has exercised sequel options on the actors, and is sealing a sequel deal with the director so that the film can be put into production early next year and be ready for a 2004 release. The sequel script’s being written by original scribe James Gunn.
The announcement was made by WB Pictures president of worldwide productions Lorenzo di Bonaventura, who said the strong opening showed studio brass the venerable sleuthing dog had plenty of bite left. “We promised audiences a summer movie the whole family could enjoy together, and they gave us a tremendous opening weekend,” he said. “We’re certain we’ve got another great Scooby-Doo story to tell in movie theaters two years from now.”
The film will be a Mosaic Media Group production, with Charles Roven and Richard Suckle producing.
SALLES AND RIVERA RE-FOCUS ON “LUCKY”: Director Walter Salles and screenwriter Jose Rivera, who’ve joined forces on “The Motorcycle Diaries,” have inked to reteam on “Lucky,” a romantic fantasy that has taken root at Focus and Radar Pictures. Rivera wrote the script for “Diaries,” the Salles-directed pic that stars “Y Tu Mama Tambien” star Gael Garcia Bernal.
“Lucky” is a fictional look at an unlikely romance, which takes a turn into magical fantasy. The film will be produced by Midge Sanford and Sara Pillsbury, along with Radar’s Scott Kroopf. Ted Field and Joe Rosenberg are exec producing. Salles is coming off of acclaimed efforts “Behind the Sun” and “Central Station,” which was Oscar nommed for foreign film in 1998.
“Walter’s films always highlight universal and human themes, and after seeking to work with him for the past couple of years, I’m glad to have him aboard ‘Lucky’ with these producers,” Focus production prexy Glenn Williamson said.
DREAMWORKS GETS TWO BIRDS WITH ONE BOOK: While most studios pine for superheros and sequels, DreamWorks is bent on making possibly the first major studio feature on the cinematically neglected pursuit of bird watching. On the basis of a 42-page partial manuscript, DreamWorks bought screen rights to “The Big Year,” a nonfiction book that Mark Obmascik is writing. The UTA-packaged deal comes with the producing attachments of Red Hour’s Ben Stiller and Stuart Cornfeld and Deuce Three Productions’ Curtis Hanson and Carol Fenelon. Neither Stiller nor Hanson are committed to doing anything other than producing until they see a script, but there is potential for a comedy to take wing. The book focuses on three guys pursuing bird-watching supremacy in 1998, which was the best year in recent memory because El Nino had brought so many species into North America and because the public was temporarily allowed to visit the island of Attu off the coast of Alaska, which, as any aficionado knows, is the Mecca for bird spotting. The trio battled to spot and record the highest number of species in North America. They played tricks on one another and two teamed up against the third in a survivor-like quest. Publication rights to the book were just sold to the Free Press by lit agent Jody Rein. DreamWork’s Grey Rembert brought in the project for the studio.
CANNES GOD GOES ENDEAVOR: Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles, who made a splash at Cannes for his film “City of God,” has signed with Endeavor after being courted by all the majors. His film, which was an official selection out of competition at Cannes, examined 20 years of drugs and gang growth in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. The pic, an adaptation of the novel “Cidade de Deus” by Paulo Lins, will be distributed by Miramax in the U.S. The film’s co-producer, “Central Station” helmer Walter Salles, is also repped by agency partner John Lesher.
FROM GILMORE TO “BAD SANTA”: “Gilmore Girls” star Lauren Graham is making her move to the bigscreen, signing to play the female lead of “Bad Santa,” the Terry Zwigoff-directed black comedy for Dimension. She joins Billy Bob Thornton, Bernie Mac and John Ritter in the comedy about a man who masquerades as Santa, complete with his own elf, for the purpose of robbing shopping malls. The Industry-repped Graham last worked for Dimension on the pic “Nightwatch,” before her WB series caught hold.