Toward the end of the 1990s, Warner Bros. and producer Charles Roven began producing a series of feature live action films starring Scooby-Doo, beginning with the 2002 film Scooby-Doo, directed by Raja Gosnell. Gosnell also directed the 2004 sequel Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004). A prequel television film, Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins (2009), was released by Cartoon Network. Brian Levant directed the film and its sequel, Scooby-Doo! Curse of the Lake Monster (2010).
Development for a live-action treatment of Scooby-Doo began in 1994 by producer Charles Roven. Originally the idea was to make a film with a much darker tone, essentially poking fun at the original cartoon series, much like The Brady Bunch Movie and was set for a PG-13 rating. Shaggy was set to be a stoner, Velma and Daphne had a side relationship, and there were many marijuana references.
Several rumors about these aspects in the original cartoon series were passed around by fans of Scooby-Doo, and were to be incorporated into the live action film.
Scooby-Doo was released on June 14, 2002. Directed by Raja Gosnell, the film starred Freddie Prinze, Jr., as Fred, Sarah Michelle Gellar as Daphne, Matthew Lillard as Shaggy, and Linda Cardellini as Velma. Scooby-Doo was created on-screen by computer-generated special effects and his voice was provided by Neil Fanning.
The plot shows the Mystery, Inc. coming back together after two years of separation, to investigate an amusement park called Spooky Island, where they deal with real demons.
The film was a financially successful release, with a domestic box office gross of over $130 million. However, the film was not well reviewed, but was a great hit with young audiences and fans of the show.
Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed was released on March 26, 2004, with the same cast and director from the first film.
The plot shows the Mystery Inc. investigating the plans of a masked villain who wants to control the city of Coolsville using a machine to create monsters. Unlike the first film, Scooby-Doo 2 featured several of the monsters from the television series, including the Black Knight, the 10,000-Volt Ghost, the Pterodactyl Ghost, the Miner 49er and Chickenstein.
The film had a poor performance at the box office, grossing $80 million at the U.S. Scooby-Doo 2 was nominated for a Razzie Award for "Worst Remake or Sequel".
In October 2002, during the filming of Scooby-Doo 2, Warner Bros. gave the green light for production of a third film. Dan Forman and Paul Foley were hired to write the script for Scooby-Doo 3.
In January 2006, however, during a press conference for the release of Without a Paddle (2004), Matthew Lillard said the third Scooby-Doo film was cancelled. "There will be no Scooby 3," Lillard said. "The second one didn't do as well as it was expected to do, and I completely hold that to Warner Brothers' fault. I think Warner Brothers made a mistake releasing it at the time they did March 2004. I think the movie's much better than the first movie, and I honestly thought it was going to do ridiculously good box office. But we had a bad timeslot. We had 13 movies open up in two weeks after we opened up. I mean, it did well, but it didn't do great, and it needed to do great", added, noting that the studio was quite disappointed with the result, which prevented the production of a third film.
On June 17, 2014, Warner Bros. announced that they will restart the film series with Randall Green writing a new animated film. Warner Bros. announced the new film for a September 21, 2018, release. However, in May 2017, the film, now referred to as Scooby, was pushed back to May 15, 2020.
Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins was aired by Cartoon Network on September 13, 2009, the 40th anniversary of Scooby-Doo. It was released on DVD and Blu-ray on September 22. Directed by Brian Levant. The plot is an origin story for the Mystery, Inc. gang, portraying the beginning of everything: how the gang met, their first mystery, their lives at school and how they got the Mystery Machine.
Scooby-Doo! Curse of the Lake Monster was aired by Cartoon Network on October 16, 2010, with the same director and cast from the previous film. In this film, the Mystery, Inc. gang is heading towards a beach club owned by Daphne's uncle, for temporary summer jobs. While involved with their tasks, they stumble on a new mystery.