Warner Bros. Discovery is giving Wile E. Coyote’s once-killed film, Coyote vs. Acme, a potential second lease on life.
The media giant last week confirmed that it was pulling a “Batgirl” and axing the $70 million completed film so it could take a $30 million tax write-down instead. But the studio is reversing course and letting the filmmakers shop the movie to other potential distributors, according to Puck. The move comes after the announcement drew widespread backlash from the filmmakers and the animation community, the report said.
A spokesman for Warner Bros. Discovery wasn’t immediately available to comment on the report.
Coyote vs. Acme was the latest victim of the massive restructuring that has gone on at Warners Bros. Discovery under CEO David Zaslav. The studio infamously shut down Batgirl and a Christmas-themed sequel to a reboot of Scoob! called Scoob Holiday Haunt! instead of seeing them through. However, unlike those projects, Coyote vs. Acme was already completed and was waiting for a release date.
“With the re-launch of Warner Bros. Pictures Animation in June, the studio has shifted its global strategy to focus on theatrical releases,” said a Warner Bros. Discovery spokesperson last week. “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.”
Like Batgirl, Coyote vs. Acme, which stars John Cena, Will Forte and the eponymous Wile E. Coyote, in CGI form, was a moderately budgeted film shot specifically for then HBO Max. But Zaslav killed or shift any projects meant for streaming only, instead focusing on theatrical releases.
The company felt that Coyote vs. Acme wasn’t suited for movie theaters, Puck reported, noting that the studio was likely gun shy after the poor performance of Space Jam: A New Legacy. Deadline, however, reported that the film scored well with test audiences, netting 14 points more than the average family film.