The irony that not more than 24 hours after the months-long SAG-AFTRA strike finally came to an end, Warner Bros. and its CEO David Zaslav are at the chopping block again as The Hollywood Reporter revealed the studio has cancelled the already completed animation/live-action hybrid Coyote Vs. Acme, a comedy which was to see the Looney Tunes’ crafty Wile E. Coyote sue ACME after he’s failed to catch the Roadrunner with several of their products.
Coyote Vs. Acme was announced in 2021 for HBO Max before shifting to a theatrical release that was originally to be released July 21, 2023 before WB pulled it from the release schedule and replacing it with their billion dollar hit Barbie. Among the cast was Will Forte (MacGruber), John Cena (Peacemaker) and Lana Candor (To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before) with Forte as Coyote’s lawyer and Cena as ACME’s former boss.
The official logline said the film would follow “Wile E. Coyote, who after ACME products fail him one too many times in his dogged pursuit of the Roadrunner, decides to hire a billboard lawyer to sue the ACME Corporation. The case pits Wile E. and his lawyer (Forte) against the latter’s intimidating former boss (Cena), but a growing friendship between man and cartoon stokes their determination to win.”
The film was even written by Samy Brunch, Jeremy Slater and James Gunn who now heads WB’s DC Studios and is set to bring the Man of Steel back to the big screen with Superman: Legacy. David Green (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows) directed the film and though Coyote Vs. Acme has been shelved, Green is still involved in upcoming projects for WB’s sister company New Line Cinema.
The decision to shelve the film is even more perplexing after WB hired veteran animation executive Bill Damaschke to head the Warner Animation Group earlier this year, the movie was scoring very positively with test audiences and WB has little in the pipeline for the remainder of this year and 2024 due to the impact of both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.
Apparently the cost of releasing Coyote Vs. Acme to theatres or even to another streaming service, such as Amazon who was reportedly quite interested in buying it, would have been too little for the studio after facing huge losses this year and Zaslav’s determination to cut whatever he can for however much he can. According to Deadline, WB stands to make $30 million from the tax write-off off the film’s $70 million budget.
“With the re-launch of Warner Bros. Pictures Animation in June, the studio has shifted its global strategy to focus on theatrical releases,” a WB Motion Picture Group spokesperson said in a statement. “With this new direction, we have made the difficult decision not to move forward with Coyote vs Acme. We have tremendous respect for the filmmakers, casts, and crew, and are grateful for their contributions to the film.”
Hours after the news, Green madr a statement through X (formerly Twitter), saying “For three years, I was lucky enough to make a movie about Wile E. Coyote, the most persistent, passionate, and resilient character of all time. I was surrounded by a brilliant team, who poured their souls into this project for years. We were all determined to honor the legacies of these historic characters and actually get them right. Along the ride, we were embraced by test audiences who rewarded us with fantastic scores. I am beyond proud of the final product, and beyond devastated by WB’s decision. But in the spirit of Wile E. Coyote, resilience and persistence win the day.”
Coyote Vs. Acme‘s cancellation comes after last year’s infamous shelving of Batgirl and the animated Scoob Holiday Haunt!. Batgirl had finished filming and was in post-production when it was cancelled, but the Scoob! sequel was, like Coyote Vs. Acme, fully completed. Since then WB has made more decisions to save a buck such as removing several titles off HBO Max and cancelling other series.
What do you think of this move by WB, just after the strike to boot? Would you like to see Coyote Vs. Acme? Let us know on our social channels at @flickeringmyth…
Ricky Church – Follow me on Twitter for more movie news and nerd talk.