Wile E. Coyote Wile E. Coyote

The boneheaded movie-hating management of Warner Bros. Discovery has canned yet another fully-completed film. This time, it’s the live-action/animation hybrid Coyote vs. Acme, based on a character created by animation legend Chuck Jones. The film had originally been greenlit for streaming on Max but had turned out well enough to later be considered for theatrical release.

The reason:


David Zaslav-run WBD plans take an estimated $30 million write-down on the $60-80m film, per a Deadline report.

This is not the first time that the studio has discarded a nearly-finished or completed film as a tax write-off. Last year, Warner Bros. execs took a write-down on the animated feature Scoob!: Holiday Haunt, as well as the straight-to-streaming live-action film Batgirl.

Deadline reports that the Dave Green-directed film, which tested extremely well with audiences, won’t even be offered to other companies, even though Amazon was interested in acquiring it for its streaming service. The tax write-off is apparently more valuable to Warner Bros. than any potential third-party pick-up.

Coyote vs. Acme was adapted by Samy Burch from a satirical piece that originally appeared in a 1990 issue of The New Yorker. In the original piece, Wile E. Coyote sues Acme, his regular weapons supplier, for its consistently malfunctioning products. The film expanded the story to include a down-on-his-luck human attorney who takes on Wile E. as a client, and then learns that his former boss at another law firm (played by John Cena) represents Acme.

Coyote vs. Acme’s director Dave Green is understandably heartbroken by the news. He shared his feelings about the cancellation on Twitter:

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.

His feelings were echoed by others who have seen the film, such as Scott Pilgrim Takes Off showrunner BenDavid Grabinski, who called the film the “best of its kind since Roger Rabbit:

COYOTE V ACME is a great movie. The best of its kind since ROGER RABBIT. It’s commercial. It tested well. The leads are super likable. It’s beautifully shot. The animation is great. The ending makes everyone fucking cry. I thought the goal of this business was to make hit movies? This makes me feel insane. It’s a great fucking movie. It’s based on a huge IP. It’s a crowd pleaser. What are we even doing anymore? I really don’t know how we’ve gone from “The Battle of Brazil” to extremely effective commercial movies being deleted for tax purposes. I will never ever understand this.

Peter Atencio, who has also viewed footage from the film, wrote:

This is INSANE. First of all, fuck a business model that incentivizes this. Secondly, this movie is GREAT. I was lucky to get to see some and it’s hilarious, with incredible animation. What a disgusting turn of events, especially with a huge gaping hole in the release calendar.

A crew members you worked on the film has posted a reel of behind-the-scenes footage from the film’s production in New Mexico:

Meanwhile, a Warner Bros. spokesperson offered the following statement on the film’s junking:

With the re-launch of Warner Bros. Pictures Animation in June, the studio has shifted its global strategy to focus on theatrical releases. 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.

WBD recently relaunched its feature animation division as Warner Bros. Pictures Animation. It is currently developing multiple animated features with Locksmith Animation, such as the musical Bad Fairies and an adaptation of Marissa Meyer’s novel series The Lunar Chronicles. The studio also plans a number of Dr. Seuss-themed animated features, with The Cat in the Hat and Oh, The Places You’ll Go! currently the farthest along in the pipeline. It anticipates releasing two theatrical animated features per year, starting in 2026.

Yesterday, during a disastrous quarterly earnings report, WBD CEO David Zaslav said that the company hasn’t “really been able to crack the kids“. It doesn’t look like Warner Bros. is going to be “cracking” kids anytime soon if they’re cancelling promising family projects based on beloved and time-tested cartoon characters.