Looney Tunes Movie Coyote vs. Acme Canceled, Then Revived

Hollywood has gotten so weird that movies are blinking in and out of existence. Recently, Warner Bros. Discovery decided to shelve a part live-action, part  animated film called Coyote vs. Acme, which would feature Looney Tunes character Wile E. Coyote, nemesis of the Roadrunner, as he sued the Acme Corporation for consistently selling him faulty products. The movie, starring John Cena and Will Forte, was completed and given a release date of July 21, 2023, but Warner Bros. removed it from its release schedule in 2022, replacing it with Barbie. Four days ago, WB announced that the film would not be released in favor of a tax write-off, similar to how they handled Batgirl and Scoob! Holiday Haunt last year. The reason given was a desire to focus on “theatrical releases,” which is puzzling because Coyote vs. Acme was going to be released theatrically, although it was previously conceived as an HBO Max feature.

But over the weekend, something happened. According to Puck News (which is behind a paywall, so here’s The Hollywood Reporter’s rundown), Warner Bros. Discovery got a lot of angry phone calls and messages from Hollywood creatives over their decision. More importantly, a bunch of filmmakers canceled meetings with Warner Bros. This was a coordinated effort to nip this practice in the bud, a message to Warner Bros. that if they behave this way, nobody will do business with them. What seems to have spooked these filmmakers the most – outside of this being the third time Warner Bros. has pulled this – is that they feel Coyote vs. Acme is a good movie, and if it can happen to this, no one’s film is safe. Now, although WB will still not be releasing Coyote vs. Acme, they are allowing director Dave Green to sell it to another studio, so the movie still has a shot to be seen. And judging by Amazon and other studios’ interest, the chances of Coyote vs. Acme getting some kind of release look pretty good.

If you care about film, or art in general, this is a good outcome. As the THR piece says, Warner Bros. Discovery billed Batgirl and Scoob! Holiday Haunt’s cancellations as a one-time act of desperation from a struggling studio. Now, over a year later, they’re doing it again, and to something that people who’ve seen it seem to agree is good. Moreover, Coyote vs. Acme cost around $70 million to make; Warner Bros. shouldn’t have much trouble recouping that on a kids’ movie. It now looks like they’ll lock up anything that isn’t a surefire hit and take some rebates instead of rolling the dice with a release. Why would anyone want to make a movie for this studio again while the current regime is in charge? Even when the film is completed, the suits could decide to block its release. Letting Dave Green shop Coyote vs. Acme to another studio is a good move in the short term, but the damage is done. Their only way forward is to stop doing this and slowly get the movie industry’s trust back. (And if that Animaniacs revival is still a thing, they’d get some goodwill with a self-deprecating episode where Yakko, Wakko, and Dot are buried in unreleased movies and try to get them screened to foil the studio.) I had high hopes for David Zaslav, but he’s done some confounding things since he’s been in charge.

It goes without saying that it’ll serve Warner Bros. right if Coyote vs. Acme ends up being a massive hit.

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to our mailing list to get the new updates!