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The ‘Coyote Vs. Acme’ Drama Explained

The 'Coyote Vs. Acme' Drama Explained

The Story Of A Film Turned Tax Write-Off

Those paying attention to animation discourse nowadays have probably heard the name Coyote Vs. Acme thrown around. While there have been many animation fans outraged at the story, there are many others who do not know the full story. Here is an in-depth explanation of the drama surrounding the cancellation of Warner Bros. Discovery’s upcoming animated film Coyote Vs. Acme.

What Was Coyote Vs. Acme

Coyote Vs. Acme was intended to be the next cinematic release for the Looney Tunes franchise. The film would have followed the titular Wile. E. Coyote entered into a legal battle against the Acme Corporation for their products’ failure to help him catch the Road Runner. Given the avant-garde and downright bizarre setup of the film, it had the potential to become another classic. The film would have been a hybrid live-action/animation style similar to 2021’s Tom & Jerry. The last Looney Tunes film to hit the big screen was 2021’s Space Jam: A New Legacy, in which the iconic duo made an appearance. 

The film began its lengthy development in 2018. After several years, the cast was announced in early 2022, with filming taking place shortly after. The director of the film was Dave Green, who also directed 2014’s Earth To Echo and 2016’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. Furthermore, the film had a sizable cast as well, starring John Cena, Will Forte, Lana Condor, P.J. Byrne, and veteran Looney Tunes voice Eric Bauza. Lastly, the film’s score was composed by Suicide Squad and Gravity’s Steve Price. 

There were several other big names attached to the production. Most notably was the head of the upcoming DC Universe, James Gunn himself. Accompanying him was Jeremy Slater, the showrunner for The Umbrella Academy and Moon Knight. Finally, the film had a budget of $70 million. Overall, the film was set to be another classic for the Looney Tunes franchise. Unfortunately, tragedy struck.

Why Was The Film Shelved? 

The film would eventually go down the path towards being shelved. In April of 2022, the film received its first delay from its original release date of July 2023. This was done so it wouldn’t conflict with the release of their summer blockbuster, Barbie. Given the success of the latter, this itself wasn’t an unreasonable choice. Unfortunately, Warner Bros. Discovery would continue to disregard the film.

The 'Coyote Vs. Acme' Drama Explained
David Zaslav

In November, Warner Bros. Discovery elected to shelf Coyote Vs. Acme indefinitely. According to sources, this was done to receive a $30 million tax write-off. Sadly, no one who worked on the film was informed of this until after the film was completed. This would not be the first time that Warner Bros. Discovery shelved a completed film. In previous months, executives also shelved Batgirl and Scoob! Holiday Haunt. Both of these were also continuations of classic franchises that were fully completed. Like Coyote Vs. Acme, they were put on ice indefinitely. 

Despite this, hope was not lost. The executives gave the film a second chance by shopping it to other distributors, such as Amazon Studios, Netflix, and even Paramount Pictures. Unfortunately, on February 9th, 2024, Warner Bros. Discovery rejected bids for the film. Worse, they declared the film would not only be shelved indefinitely but outright deleted. At the time of writing, the film’s final fate remains ambiguous. 

How Have Fans Responded? 

As one might expect, animation fans did not take well to this news. The biggest voices to speak out were the film’s creators, including director Dave Green, who was a longtime fan of Looney Tunes. Furthermore, reports indicated that the film was well-received during test screenings, making the film’s cancellation even more baffling. At the very least, the scale of the backlash the decision garnered has to put to rest the idea that the tax write-off was worth it. 

The scale of this drama even reached politicians, such as Texas congressman Joaquin Castro, who compared the film’s deletion to burning a building down for insurance money. Two of the biggest hashtags circulating social media are #ReleaseCoyoteVsAcme and #FireDavidZaslav due to the latter’s incompetence as an executive. Until the film sees the light of day, it’s unlikely that the protests will just blow over given how long they’ve raged and how passionate the fanbase is. 

Nowadays, there are few entertainment executives more despised than David Zaslav. The fate of Coyote Vs. Acme serves as yet another example cited towards the disastrous nature of the Warner Bros.-Discovery merger. Ever since the 2022 acquisition, the company has been hemorrhaging money as its flagship streaming service Max continues to lose deals and IPs. Coyote Vs. Acme’s cancellation was seen as especially insulting given how Looney Tunes was a classic franchise of Warner Bros. alongside DC Comics and Lord of the Rings

That’s All Folks?

Currently, the fate of Coyote Vs. Acme remains ambiguous. As such, there are also many who not only hope for the film’s leaking but that the creators of Coyote Vs. Acme sued Warner Bros. Discovery for its cancellation. Hopefully, Wile. E. won’t be the only one getting his day in court!

The 'Coyote Vs. Acme' Drama Explained
‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’| Warner Bros | Directed by Malcom D. Lee | Wile E. Coyote

Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021) Official Warner Bros. Trailer

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Cailen Fienemann is a current student at Le Moyne College pursuing her BA in English and Communications with a film studies minor and a creative writing concentration.  Though uncertain about her career end-goals, any job that allows her to write is a cherished one indeed.